KIGALI - A farmers’ insurance scheme starts next year in a bid to achieve the Economic Revolution Programme, Local Government minister, Protais Musoni has said. Musoni said on Tuesday that the scheme is intended to enable farmers access financial assistance from banks for investment in agricultural activities.
He was addressing MPs on the Economic Revolution Programme and Vision 2020 Umurenge, which focuses on rural development.
Plans for the scheme will be completed by January 2008, Musoni told MPs.
“Under the insurance scheme, farmers will be able to get a retirement package like any other employee and the Social Security Fund is helping in the initiative,” he explained.
He said that the scheme will help farmers in cooperatives to easily access fertilizers and high quality seeds.
He said the scheme is one of the ways his ministry has taken to tackle the problem of poverty in order to attain economic development and the objectives of the Economic Revolution Programme.
“It is in line with Vision 2020 Umurenge which is aimed at uplifting the standards of people in rural areas through massive involvement in commercial agriculture other than subsistence farming,” Musoni said. He urged farmers to join cooperatives where they could pool their resources together and improve their agricultural earnings.
MP Ezekias Rwabuhihi observed that people fear investing in agriculture because of price fluctuations and the banks’ reluctance to give loan facilities to farmers. He called on banks to start helping farmers to acquire soft loans and advice to enable them benefit from agricultural investments.
Meanwhile MPs called on the Ministry of Local Government to fix prices of agricultural products in order to achieve a balanced economic growth through the Land Consolidation Programme.
Under this process, people sharing borders are required to join their land in order to grow a certain crop on a large scale.
“Land consolidation calls for each province to specialise in growing of a certain crop depending on soil contents, this would lead to better crop yields that would result into price fluctuations,” MP Alfred Gasana said.
MP Pelagie Mukantaganzwa said that there should be fixed prices of various agricultural products if land consolidation is to benefit farmers.
Musoni said that his ministry was working with the private sector to see how they could start up processing industries to ensure that agricultural produce is locally consumed.
He pointed out that the ministry was planning to start its cooperative called ‘Ikibina Local Government’ that would assist farmers in buying products at relatively higher prices.