Smallholder farmers have been urged to embrace modern agriculture practices to optimise output on their small plots of land.
“Rwandans should take advantage of the various modern farming methods, such as the use of greenhouses for fruit and vegetable farming, as well as use irrigation to increase crop production,” Evariste Safari, the head of the agriculture department at Balton Rwanda, said.
He said many small farmers still use traditional approaches and depend on rainfall to carry out agriculture activities, resulting in poor harvests. Safari was speaking during a farmers’ training early this week. He said Balton is working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources to encourage farmers to embrace modern farming methods.
“Through programmes, like “Nkunganire” the agriculture ministry supports farmers to acquire small irrigation equipment at a subsidised price...Balton helps install the equipment to enable farmers to water their crops. This way, farmers can now grow crops throughout the year as they don’t depend on seasonal rains,” he said.
He said such initiatives will help farmers to produce high yields for both home consumption and sale on small pieces of land.
The “Nkunganire” programme aims at supporting farmers as they transition from traditional agriculture methods to modern techniques to ensure optimum land use.
Statistics from the National Institute of Statistics (NISR) project that Rwanda’s population will increase to 16.5 million in 2032, from the current estimate of 11.5 million.
Safari said to ensure food safety and sustainable development, will require smart farming methods.
Maria Goreth Cyangwene, a farmer from Bumbogo Sector in Gasabo District, said practicing traditional small-scale agriculture is increasingly becoming difficult because of inadequate land and lack of enough inputs to support production.
Cyangwene said farmers should be trained in modern agriculture methods, like use of fertilisers and crop husbandry practices, to ensure high yields.
Agnes Uwamahoro, a fruit and vegetable grower in Bugesera District, challenged farmers to move with times, noting that crop irrigation is the way to go for today’s farmer.
Uwamahoro said farmers can no longer depend on the unpredictable rain patterns, urging them to adapt modern methods of farming for sustainable crop production.