RADA says rice production went up by 38 percent while wheat increased by 14 percent in the early season of 2009
The Rwanda Agriculture Development Authority (RADA) has assured Rwandans that they will not go hungry, despite this week’s warning by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that East Africa is bound to have severe food shortages.
FAO, a UN body charged with insuring food security warned early this week that East African countries including Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia were well below average and that prospects for Eritrean crops also are poor.
The UN agency warned that other parts of the region could be affected adding that 20 million people in the region already receive food aid and that the number may rise in coming months.
FAO blamed the poor harvests on the persistent regional drought that has also reduced livestock herds and forced people to migrate in search of water supplies.
However Rwandan authorities have assured the nation that owing to a major improvement in agricultural production the country has a food balance of 6 months from July to December 2009.
Rwanda’s overall agricultural production for the 2009 season between February and June went up by 6.5 percent as compared with the same season in 2008.
Norbert Sendege, the Acting Director General of RADA said that figures on production for the 2009 season show that there is a surplus of food in the country and food scarcity is not a threat.
The national food balance sheet shows a surplus of 197 metric tonnes excluding imports, food aid and stock.
“The country is able to meet its food requirements and get surpluses. Besides production of almost all crops has increased,” Sendege said. He pointed out that rice production also went up by 38 percent while wheat increased by 14 percent.
Sendege also added that more emphasis has been put on maize and vegetable production for Season C which occurs between July and the end of the year by distribution of improved seeds and chemical fertilizers to farmers.
“Maize which is planted now is a new variety called SC514 which can produce between 5 and 9 tons per hectare. The main cause of the production increase in most cases is the improvement of the yield,” Sendege.
However Sendege noted that there is still need to strengthen value addition and post harvest handling in order to minimise post harvest losses which are estimated at 15 percent.
According to a crop assessment report the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, the available food resources are more than enough to support the national calorific needs.
Calorific needs, which are nutritional values that a body needs are rated at 2100kcal/capital per day (59 of proteins and 40g lipids).
In the Southern and Northern provinces, except in Nyaruguru district this rate stands at 98 percent
In the other provinces, carolific needs are covered at a minimum rate of 100 percent.
The main crops with high share in crop production and potentiality in Kcal are maize, sorghum, cassava and banana which recorded an increase in production in SeasonB.
Maize production recorded the highest increase with 108 percent; sorghum went up by 17 percent, cassava by 2 percent while banana production registered a rise by 4 percent.