The Rwandan government is set to promote cassava growing to boost food security in the country, a government official has said.
In an interview with Norbert Sendege, the Director General of Rwanda Agriculture Development Authority (RADA), the latter said the government intends to increase yields to 20,000 tons per hectare and total production to 2 million tons per year.
“Cassava should be a priority, because it’s a staple food for most Rwandans and can be produced as different varieties. It is also drought-resistant, in comparison with other crops,” he said.
Cassava can be consumed as fries, chipped-off dried tubers, a solid meal, and flour and tapioca starch. Dried cassava roots and meal are also used as raw material for compound animal feed while cassava starch is used for industrial purposes.
“Cassava could grow four times as plentifully and feed many more people,” he said. Cassava is mainly grown in Southern Province but government intends to expand the acreage of plantations to 90,000 from 70,000ha. Rwanda exports cassava flour to Belgium.
According to the Minister of Agriculture, Agnes Kalibata, the crop is one of the priorities under the government crop intensification programme.
Other crops mentioned by the Minister include, maize, beans, wheat, irish potatoes and bananas. Karibata said the crops will be funded in areas of seeds, fertilizers and technical services.
Sendege, said that maize and sorghum are both cereals but the government is encouraging to plant maize over sorghum.
“Regarding ingredients, maize is more nutritious and with the highest yield than sorghum,” Sendege said.
Central Bank indicates that with a particular focus on cereals production, Rwanda is currently recording a boom in maize production with an increase of 53.7 percent in 2010, compared to 2009.
“This performance is currently leading to a dynamic trade activity of this crop especially between Rwanda and its neighboring countries”, official statement reads.
Maize produces between four and eight tons while the sorghum yield is between one and two tons per hectare.
Government wants to support the agriculture sector which it sees as a key factor in increase economic growth expected to grow between 7 and 10 percent.
According to the recent monetary policy statement, 2010 season A and B harvests recorded an increase of 8.2% compared to 2009, driven by cereals and roots & tubers production which increased by 18.7% and 18.8% respectively.