During my 2009 summer holidays in Rwanda, I found that many people were anxious about the high cost of living. A normal meal at a restaurant will set you back at least Frw 3,000. Very few people can afford such meals. In fact many of my workmates chose to have something else for lunch.
The most popular advice to Rwandans in the Diaspora before they go home is to “make sure you have enough money before going down to party”.
Many of them love Bourbon café but a simple meal (chicken stroganoff and a drink) costs about Frw 7,000 -this is indeed a lot of money. Consider that, for instance, in the USA, fast food, of any kind won’t set up back more than six dollars.
I believe that these unnecessarily high food prices are the result of poor agricultural methods. As Minister Musoni argued, “why should Rwanda still depend on rainfall agriculture?
Our country has depended on rainfall since the days of ‘gihanga’. Today, centuries later, we shouldn’t still be depending on rainfall agricultural.
Today, Rwandans are no longer in the Stone Age. Many of them hold doctorates in environment and agriculture from fancy Russian, European and American universities, and yet things aren’t changing.
Hundreds graduate from ISAE and National University of Rwanda in Agronomy but farmers still use the same agricultural implements that their grandparents used.
Someone has to get something done, the productivity of crops, livestock and fisheries need to be increased in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner, which is acceptable to both the farmers as well as the consumers.
We need to let go the offices and get to the field. We need to get into the labs and create a solution to Rwandan agriculture- one that won’t depend on the rainfall.
And if The New Times report that “agriculture output could reduce by half next year”, then we must reform as fast as possible. It is time for the Ministry of Agriculture to take action that will increase agricultural productivity.