A new report shows that inadequate access to loans by farmers is still a big hindrance to the progress of the agriculture sector.
The report was produced by Rwanda Civil Society Platform (RCSP) in partnership with the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA).
The survey, done in Nyaruguru, Gakenke, Gatsibo and Ngororero districts, sampled 144 respondents, mainly farmers and agronomists, between September and October.
“Thirty-nine per cent agreed that there are few institutions that provide agricultural loans; 52 per cent said the loans have high interest rates, and 36 per cent said financial services are in adequate in rural areas,” the report said.
The study added that 48 per cent of the respondents agreed that the proceeds from output are too low to cover farming costs.
Anick Rudakemwa, the information and outreach coordinator at RCSP, said this year, the organisation had chosen to fund a research project in agriculture, so it can help in advocating for assistance.
According to Kabayiza, land remains less productive and largely used on a subsistence level.
Distribution of arable land now stands at one hectare for every nine Rwandans and is diminishing due to high birth rates.
The obvious consequence is that the majority of rural families who subsist on agriculture own less than 0.5 hectare, which is too small to earn a living.
The report said the total area under land use consolidation has over the years increased eighteen-fold from 28,016 hectares in 2008 to 602,000 hectares in 2012.
Cultivated land countrywide is currently estimated at 1,755,320 hectares.
Agriculture is the country’s backbone, with about 84 per cent of the total population dependent on it, according to the National Institute of Statistics Rwanda (NISR).
Agriculture contributes to development as an economic activity, as a livelihood, and as a provider of environmental services, making the sector almost a unique instrument for growth and poverty reduction. It contributes 32 per cent of GDP.
Rwanda Agriculture Board envisions that by 2017, about 25 per cent of agricultural farm operations will become mechanised, implying that one in every four farmers will either use or hire mechanisation services.
As of 2013, only 13.5 per cent of farm operations were mechanised.
“I am glad that this report brings to light some of the challenges we face. I am optimistic someone will come to our assistance,” Jean Marie Mukire, a resident of Shyogwe Sector, Muhanga District, said.