Despite years of record high cereal harvests left Eastern Province with huge surpluses following the introduction of the land consolidation programme, many farmers plan to increase production.
They have been assured that the government will buy crops at above market prices and stock under the National Strategic Reserve to supply the population during time of scarcity.
This was disclosed during a one-day workshop that attracted stakeholders in the agriculture sector in the country.
The Minister of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Geraldine Mukeshimana, told those in attendence that the government would protect farmers by stabilising market prices.
She said there was need to maintain and restore the role of small holder farmers and their integral role in food production.
Protection of farmers is one of the key components in strengthening farming this support in agriculture sector will translate into benefits for the society as a whole,” she noted.
“There has been steady increase in crop production and productivity…This is reflected in the government’s efforts to help small and medium farmers boost production; providing assistance in obtaining access to seeds and fertilizers. So, we must also create a situation where farmers get good prices as an incentive”.
The Governor of the Eastern Province, Odette Uwamariya, reiterated the need to protect farmers from what she called ‘opportunistic’ businesspersons.
“We must appreciate the role smallholder farmers play in food security, by helping them get good prices. We support a system of agricultural production that is stable for and mutually beneficial for producers and consumers alike. The producers have unfortunately been caught on the wrong side,” she said.
Farmers said they face challenges in managing the post harvest period. Alex Ndahayo, a maize grower, told Sunday Times that selling the produce cheaply soon after harvest was most of the times inevitable.
“There are two things; one, we need money quickly to cater for our needs. So we can’t supply and wait for money for long time. Two, we don’t have enough storage facilities…its thus inevitable that we sell some of the crops to get cash,” he said.
Meanwhile, farmers were urged to grow more soybeans to supply the new soya processing industry based in Kayonza District.