The Ministry of Agriculture has announced a new ‘smart’ initiative to increase access to agriculture information and boost agricultural production.
The initiative, dubbed “Information and Communication Technology for Agriculture Strategy and Implementation Plan,” was approved by Cabinet on Tuesday.
Addressing a post-Cabinet news briefing, yesterday, Dr Geraldine Mukeshimana, the minister for agriculture and animal resources, said the strategy will, among others, help farmers carry out improved farming, consequently leading to a significant increase in agriculture outputs both for consumption and export.
The move is part of the national agenda dubbed, “Smart Rwanda,” that outlines several priority sectors that should embrace innovation, including health and education.
“There are several sectors under ‘Smart Rwanda’ and agriculture is one of them. We designed the ICT for agriculture strategy and implementation plan because citizens need to learn more improved and innovative ways of carrying out agriculture,” Mukeshimana said.
“The strategy will, among others, help farmers to forecast weather and climate changes, use technology to improve their harvest through land examination, and use of improved seeds and fertilisers.”
Mukeshimana said through the new ICT for Rwanda agriculture plan, the government will be able to know the number of farmers and this would help the former to have consolidated data that will assist in creating subsidies for the latter as well as better distribute agriculture inputs such as seeds and fertilisers.
She said the new plan will also see an increase in agriculture production and consequently lead to increase of agro-exports.
“To be able to join specific markets, this will require us to be smart in a way that matches our competitors. We simply need to engage those we work with (the public), consolidate our information, which will make our agriculture more productive and have produce that can compete favourably on the international market,” Mukeshimana said.
The Cabinet meeting also approved the new agricultural inputs, namely seeds and fertilisers, distribution model under the Government subsidy scheme.
According to Minister Mukeshimana, this comes to close the gaps that have been pertinent in the sector, which have led to a number of uncoordinated activities between agro-dealers (local distributors of agriculture inputs), the government and the suppliers of the inputs.
The new model will see the creation of a new public enterprise, Agro-processing Trust Company, which will be mandated to receive agricultural inputs from the suppliers and distribute them to the grassroots agro-dealers.
“The company will also do follow-up to make sure that these inputs have served the purpose intended,” the minister noted.