Government has indentified 35,000 hectares of marshlands for rice production to increase the crop’s yield and counter the heavy import bill, the Agriculture Minister said.
“With 35,000 hectares up from 12,000 hectares of rice production, we will be able to meet our demand, it’s a breakeven,” said Dr. Agnes Kalibata the Minister of agriculture.
Domestic rice output reached 246, 372 tonnes last year, 54,795 tonnes less than the market demand of 301,167 tonnes. The country relies on imports to cover the deficit.
The 35,000 hectares of marshlands identified across the country are contained in a five-year plan, the Minister said, adding that Rwanda can do better in rice production.
In a similar move to increase rice production, government is piloting a project on upland rice production.
‘Golden Mountain No.1’, which was piloted and has proved suitable to be produced on Rwanda’s uplands is known for its early maturity which requires only four months to be harvested. Wetland rice takes about six months to mature. This type is said to have performed well compared with the other four varieties that were tested.
“The project is still ongoing, but the biggest challenge with the upland rice is the poor water holding capacity which is still very low,” she said.
The crop is being tested in different parts of the country including Rwamagana District in the eastern province, Kabuye demonstration centre in Kigali and Huye in the southern province. It is expected to bridge the 18 percent deficit of rice supply on the local market.