Research project on crop intensification launched

Partner States of the East African Community have started a research project seeking to find ways of addressing a mismatch between some agricultural policies, strategies and practices as part of efforts to address food insecurity in the region.

Partner States of the East African Community have started a research project seeking to find ways of addressing a mismatch between some agricultural policies, strategies and practices as part of efforts to address food insecurity in the region.

This was announced in Kigali, last week, at a workshop on Water, Land, Ecosystems, and Trade in Staples. The workshop was organised under the theme, “Using regional trade in staples for equitable food and nutrition security and ecosystems services in the EAC.”

Some regions grow crops without first knowing where to sell the produce, which leads to losses and wastage due to poor prices, Eddy Frank Rugamba, the project assistant of Kilimo Trust, a firm that seeks regional solutions to local problems in EAC and South Sudan, said.

Rugamba noted that some regions face food shortages when others have surplus food being wasted due to poor supply chain.

“The $600,000 research project will involve assessing if crops are grown on suitable land, how regional markets can be connected and how produce in one region can be taken to where it is not grown,” Rugamba said.

The research is expected to take two years, according to Josaphat Mugabo, principal research fellow at the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB).

“It will highlight gaps in the conflicting policies. Each country has its own policies, but the EAC also has policies.

We will analyse those policies, assess national policies and after identifying the gaps we shall look at ways of harmonising them,” Mugabo said.

The sustainable agriculture intensification project will be implemented by RAB in Rwanda. The project will focus on beans, rice, and maize.

“The research will reveal where each crop can grow more suitably in some areas than elsewhere through regional exchange and cooperation,” Mugabo said.

If, for example, research indicates that Rwanda is suitable for bean growing, it will be encouraged to grow beans and other countries grow other crops suitable to their soils, climate, and ecosystems instead of all regions growing all crops randomly.

“The project also looks at ways of curbing wasting or post harvest losses. Rwanda might grow so many potatoes but without knowing there is better market in Kenya. We will design maps showing roads, warehouses, transport means that reduces losses or wasting,” researchers said.

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