In a bid to offer proper and timely services to silkworm farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture, yesterday launched the National Sericulture Centre (NSC) in Ndera sector, Gasabo district.
The Centre, which cost Rwf 100 million, is the first of its kind in the country and was created with the aim of improving and speeding up services to local silkworm growers and facilitating the development of the silk industry in Rwanda.
The centre will be used for research on silk production and will carry out sensitization campaigns among local residents to ensure that they actively participate in mulberry cultivation.
Addressing guests at the launch, the Minister of Agriculture, Agnes Kalibata noted that mulberry cultivation and silkworm rearing is crucial to national development.
“This activity creates jobs and generates income. We must take it as seriously as any other business,” Kalibata said.
“Silk is an essential product both on the local and international market, you will never fail to get market for your product,” she assured a gathering that included farmers and other various stakeholders.
Kalibata noted that the Centre is also expected to improve the quality of silkworm production and called upon its management team to always be close to local farmers.
She cautioned them against testing research on residents as it happened in the past.
“Farmers are not there for you to test your researches. They need silkworm eggs that are ready to produce. They are doing businesses: they need money, not experiments,” Kalibata said.
“When you distribute eggs to farmers, make sure they are ready to produce, otherwise you will have problems with me.”
On behalf of the beneficiaries, Jean Paul Ntagara, the representative of the Rwanda Silk Farmers Federation (RSFF), said that the new centre will help them improve their production.
“We will benefit from the expertise and whenever we need any support we will come to these experts at the centre,” Ntagara said.
He urged other farmers to embrace this type of agriculture as it was a big source of money and a solution to poverty.
“The benefits could exceed those obtained from coffee or tea. There is enough money in this business; to the point whereby if we seriously get involved in it, we will achieve Vision 2020 sooner,” Ntagara said.
Mulberry cultivation and silkworm rearing was for the first time introduced in Rwanda in 2000 by the Rwanda Agriculture Research Institute (ISAR). In 2003, farmers started cultivating it.
Today, 38 cooperatives with more than 840 members are involved in the field countrywide, with about 300 hectares of mulberry planted.