Farmers and other agricultural players have welcomed the new inputs (seeds and fertilisers) distribution model under the Government subsidy scheme, saying it will help curtail malpractices in the distribution chain.
The new Inputs Distribution Model, under the Government Subsidy Scheme, was approved by Cabinet recently.
Farmers say some fertilisers were previously illegitimately exported to neighbouring countries and nepotism applied in the distribution of seeds due to lack of proper distribution channel.
Evariste Tugirinshuti, president of Rwanda Maize Farmers Cooperatives Federation (FCMR), told The New Times, last week, that there were no clear guidelines when single agro-dealers handled the input distribution model.
Isaac Nzabonimpa, president of the Federation of Potato farmer cooperatives in Rwanda (FECOPPORWA), said previously, some agro-dealers would buy tonnes of ferilisers and illicitly export some of them out of the country.
Tugirinshuti said the workers under the new model are ensuring that no fertilisers enter fraudulently in the neighbouring countries for sale.
“Previously, smuggling of fertilisers was common because there was no strong management,” he said, adding that some fertilisers went to Burundi and Tanzania.
This, Tugirinshuti said, affected crop production as farmers could not get required quantities of fertilisers.
He said seeds distributors at the cell level would also give the inputs to their relatives or their friends irrespective of the existing ministerial orders and the size of the land.
“Some farmers could be allocated 25 kilogrammes of maize to grow on one-hectare piece of land, but receives 17 kilogrammes so the seeds distributor gives eight kilogrammes to their relative,” Tugirinshuti said.
It affected yields per hectare as the farmer sowed insufficient seeds, he added.
Under the new model, only eight private companies have signed contracts with the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) to import and timely supply mineral fertilisers in the country under the Government’s subsidy programme.
The contracts run for agriculture season A and B (July 1, to June 30, 2017).
The companies are allowed to trade fertilisers through the Agro Processing Trust Corporation Ltd (APTC Ltd), which, in turn, takes those fertilisers to farmers in all the districts of the country.
The crops that are covered under the Government subsidy scheme for fertilisers in this farming year are maize, beans, wheat, soya, rice, Irish potatoes, cassava, banana, vegetables and fruits.
Speaking to The New Times, Egide Gatari, agriculture subsidies programme manager at RAB, acknowledged that under the previous model, there were anomalies that this new model is expected to address.
“Because the agro-dealers from the sector level used to buy fertilisers from importers, chances of lying about the quantities were high,” he said.
FECOPPORWA’s Nzabonimpa said the new model would ensure efficiency in fertiliser application as well as land protection, noting that, previously, a farmer would go to an agro-dealer and buy too much fertilisers that were disproportional to their land.
Currently, a farmer has to register with a ‘Twigire Muhinzi’ agent at the village level, who sends the list to the agro-dealer and then the farmer presents their land title upon which they determine proportional fertilisers before paying for it.
“Some farmers applied excess fertilisers which responded adversely to potato productivity. You realised that potatoes lost quality because of that problem,” Nzabonimpa said.
The Chief Executive of APTC Ltd, Lt Col Moses Kayigamba, said the new system will improve efficiency and effectiveness of inputs distribution to ensure that the resources that the government has invested in them reach the intended beneficiaries.
“It is centred on farmers using the Twigire Muhinzi [agriculture extension] model. The distribution itself is demand-driven supply chain against the previous one which was supply driven chain,” Kayigamba told The New Times.
According to RAB’s Gatari, there are 30 agro-dealers at the district level and 916 at the sector level in the country.
Subsidy and fertiliser use
According to the new model, the subsidy varies depending on the type of fertiliser. For instance, DAP, commonly used for maize, is subsidised at 35 per cent, with a kilogramme at Rwf410, while it would be Rwf630 without subsidy.
NPK 17:17:17, applied mainly on potatoes, attracts 15 per cent subsidy with a kilogramme at Rwf520 after subsidy.
Three seeds companies are the ones allowed to import seeds into the country, according to the new model. The seeds subsidised are maize, wheat and soya.
Seeds subsidy also varies depending on the seed as, for instance, H629 – a hybrid maize grown in high altitude areas, gets 75 per cent subsidy, with a kilogramme at Rwf460 instead of Rwf1,840.
Imported soya seed, like SC Safari, is subsidised at 85 per cent, where a kilogramme goes for Rwf250 against Rwf1,440 (unsubsidised).
Last financial year, around 32,000 tonnes of mineral fertilisers were used, according to Gatari. The Government targets to have about 50,000 tonnes of mineral fertilisers applied in the 2017 agriculture season A and B, he added. He said the subsidy for both seeds and crops in the same period is estimated at Rwf9 billion.
The National Fertiliser Policy, developed by the Ministry of Agriculture in June 2014, targets fertiliser use of 45 kilogrammes per hectare in 2017/18. This translates into 55,000 tonnes of fertilisers.Follow https://twitter.com/EmNtirenganya