Farmers in Ngoma District have been urged to embrace modern agricultural techniques, include technology, to improve production and their household incomes. Aphrodis Nambaje, the Ngoma District mayor, said many smallholder farmers still use poor methods of farming which affects production and quality of produce due to poor post-harvest handling practices.
Nambaje was speaking during the ‘Ngoma Open Day’ exhibition last week. He also hailed the level of agri-technology showcased at the expo, noting that technology is essential for farmers to increase yields and hence their incomes.
“With technology and modern farming practices, one can be able to get high yields from a small piece of land,” he said.
Nambaje also urged residents to support farmers and other producers by consuming products made from the district. He said though the district has big coffee plantations, most residents don’t drink the beverage.
The district also produces banana, maize, and rice, among others. However, the official expressed concern that residents sell most of their produce immediately after harvest, which has exposed the area to malnutrition.
“We produce a lot of banana, maize and rice, but the problem is that people rush to sell everything leaving homes without enough food to eat. This has to stop because a sick population cannot produce or develop,” he said.
Nambaje said the authorities had reinforced sensitisation campaigns on nutrition to help families understand the importance of good feeding in household and national development.
Meanwhile, Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze Activity project, which promotes agricultural modernisation in the country, including in Ngoma, emerged second best exhibitor at the expo. The project is expected to sustainably increase incomes of more than 20,000 smallholder farmers and end malnutrition, and is currently working in 10 districts, including Ngoma, according to officials.
The five-year $32.6 million USAID-funded project started in June 2017. It works with smallholder farmers, encouraging them to embrace modern farming methods to increase output and income. Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze Activity officials said the organisation helps farmers to acquire small farm machinery by covering 70 per cent of the cost of equipment needed by groups and cooperatives. Besides helping smallholder farmers to produce more, the programme targets to ease farmers’ access to markets and improve nutrition in households, especially for women and children. It also seeks to make Rwanda’s agricultural and food systems more resilient to changing climate, officials said.
Daniel Gies, the Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze Activity chief of party, said they will work with the district to enable it achieve its development goals, including fighting malnutrition and poverty.
Farmers speak out
Clarisse Nyiransengimana, a farmer who attended the exhibition held in Kibungo sector, said poor post-harvest handling practices and lack of proper storage were some of the challenges faced by smallholder farmers. She added that many farmers do not have right market information and, hence sell their produce at low prices.