NYARUGURU - The food situation in the country is more stable than it has been in many years, Agriculture and Livestock Minister, Dr Agnes Kalibata has said.
Speaking during the 29th celebration of World Food Day held in Nyaruguru district, Kalibata said that a lot of food was produced last season dispelling fears of food insecurity such as those in other countries.
“Agriculture growth is about 11 percent which is good by all standards. We produced a lot of food last season, we have not had any food shortages and we do not expect to have any as the season is going ahead, the rains started a bit late but they are getting better,” said Kalibata.
The Minister noted that the rise in food prices is expected in the country just like in the rest of the region, due to the dry spell in August.
“It is not peculiar to Rwanda, it is happening in every country but the good thing here, it is a little bit stable than it has been in many years,” she said.
As the world marks World Food Day, it is estimated that more than one billion people are undernourished worldwide. One in every six persons suffers from hunger mainly as a result of the world economic crisis which has further reduced incomes of the poor and significantly reduced their access to food.
In Rwanda the campaign to encourage crop consolidation in different parts of the country has significantly staved-off hunger.
Nyaruguru, a district ravaged by hunger in the past, has embraced crop consolidation.
Farmers in the district are now able to harvest about 20 tonnes of potatoes per hectare of land. This has enabled the district population to satisfy domestic consumption and reserve the rest for the market.
The Minister noted that to sustain the growth in the agricultural sector, government is doing its best to provide the necessary farm inputs to ensure good yields.
“We are giving fertilizers and improved seeds to farmers; we are putting agronomists per 500 hectares to support the existing ones so that we can have more strength, more energy in terms of supporting farmers,” she said.
Elizabeth Balepa, the Food and Agriculture Organisation representative in Rwanda, hailed the high priority the government of Rwanda gives to rural development as a means of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
“For Rwanda the soaring prices on food products has not been alarming thanks to preventive measures set by the government over the past few years,” Balepa said.
As part of the ceremonies to mark the day in the district, government officials joined local residents in planting potatoes on an 8 hectare garden belonging to a local school.
Model farmers’ associations were also given an assortment of farm tools. Kalibata made a pledge of 100 cows on behalf of President Paul Kagame to support the One-Cow- per family initiative in the district.
This year’s World Food Day was celebrated under the theme: Achieving food security in times of crisis. The national theme for the day was: Priority crops to achieve food security.