Proper management of marshlands can help the Government save money spent on imports and play a key role in the country’s economic growth, State Minister for Agriculture Tony Nsanganira has said.
The minister made the remarks while addressing agriculture stakeholders from three districts of the City of Kigali at City Hall yesterday. The meeting discussed the current situation in agriculture sector ahead of 2016/17 Season A.
It was attended by officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), City council, mayors of three urban districts of Gasabo, Kicukiro and Nyarugenge, farmers’ cooperatives, among other partners.
Agricultural activities in Kigali are mostly conducted in marshlands, with maize, beans and vegetables the main crops grown.
Nsanganira challenged farmers to increase food production to provide raw materials for factories and food for the growing hotel sector.
“Local industries are based on agriculture. The sector’s contribution is key to our economic growth as it employs the majority of citizens. Farmers in the city should actively participate in the development of this sector. Marshlands are helpful and should be optimally managed for production,” Nsanganira said.
Officials said there is a need for enforcement and accountability to benefit from marshlands in the city.
Farmers who fail to manage marshlands should be stopped from using them and have their space given to others who can put it proper use, the minister said.
The minister urged the youth against shunning farming activities in preference for white collar jobs.
Dr Jeanne Nyirahabimana, the mayor of Kicukiro, said the district, in partnership with the ministry, is looking into ways to develop ponds for more productivity.
She said the ponds are part of marshlands and can be used in fish farming.
Partnership of stakeholders
Sandrine Urujeni, deputy chief executive of the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), said partners in agriculture should work closely to harmonise farming activities.
“Some areas are selected for particular crops. There are potential crops that we can export like vegetables and flowers. Such areas should be known by all partners. If the districts inform us about the areas, it will be easy for us to direct investors who are interested in such farming activities,” she said.
Dr Tresphore Ndabamenye, the head of crop intensification at RAB, said at least 696 hectares of marshlands in Kigali have already been prepared although more acreage remain undeveloped.
He cited some challenges hindering the proper management of the marshlands, including negative attitude to land consolidation, and sand and clay quarrying.
Ndabamenye called for more sensitisation of city dwellers to educate them about proper management of marshlands and land consolidation.
Last year, 8,088 hectares of marshlands were developed, while at least 8,015 hectares will be developed this year.
Jean Bosco Hakizumwami, the head of cooperatives of vegetable farmers in Rwampara marshland, in Nyarugenge District, said stakeholders in agriculture have to protect marshlands from flooding in rainy seasons as this affects their activities.