The government of Rwanda is determined to develop and maintain consistent strategies as well as provide the appropriate infrastructure to transform traditional farmers into mechanised farmers and ultimately commercially successful agri-businesses, a top official has said.
“Mechanisation is the most important input in agriculture and not a luxury as many think, and the government’s strategy is to replace the “back-breaking” hoe with a power tiller in the next three to five years,” Agnes Kalibata, Agriculture Minister said in an exclusive interview.
The government also promised to provide infrastructure like roads, access to driers and develop post harvest storage infrastructure, in its bid to enhance productivity and competitiveness of Rwanda’s agricultural sector.
Through the Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), Rwanda Development Bank (BRD) and government will ensure that farmers have access to credit at reasonable cost and low interest rate to facilitate farmers acquire the tractors.
Kalibata told the Business Times that the challenges involved in shifting to mechanised farming include building farmers’ capacity, developing proper attitude to be able to benefit from the initiative, developing infrastructure, marketability, and organising farmers into cooperatives to reduce on operational costs through land consolidation.
She said that effective trainings are done in isolated sectors such as bee keeping, honey and dairy industry.
“2000 years back, our ancestors used hoe and we have been sleeping in a dynamic agricultural practices, we need to develop the mechanised orientation of the farmers if we are to develop our economy which is highly dependent on agriculture,” Kalibata said.
The Minister, noted that many countries have opted for mechanised farming because of the high cost of labour with low productivity.
Asked if small land owners will not reject the move, Kalibata assured that mechanisation can be done on a very small piece of land but, emphasised that land consolidation would ease the process.
She said that with mechanisation, farmers will also be able to optimise on rains instead of wasting time looking for workers.