KIGALI - Prime Minister Bernard Makuza has told the Senate that the government has embarked on using the Crop Intensification Programme (CIP) to boost agricultural production and that, so far, the results are impressive.
The Premier made the remarks, yesterday, while appearing before the upper chamber to explain what the government was doing to ensure that agricultural yields are effectively processed and farmers get access to markets.
The CIP was initiated in 2007 to address the falling trend in productivity of crops and the minimal use and low availability of fertilizers in the country.
“This programme has helped the country move from being food-insecure to food secure. Since we introduced CIP, production has doubled, and to some extent, tripled,” Makuza said.
He revealed that in 2007, before the introduction of the programme, agricultural contribution to GDP was 0.7%, but a year later, it contributed 15.0%.
Regarding how the government coordinates and plans for agricultural yields, Makuza, who was accompanied by three ministers, said that coordination and planning is a cross-cutting issue that involves various organs of government.
“The government has also introduced the Integrated Development Programme which mainly tackles increase of agricultural produce and empowers farmers to undergo sustainable agricultural transformation,” said the Premier.
Under the CIP, the Premier said, the government has set up a plan to increase production in the first season of 2011.
Part of the plan is to cultivate maize on 166,000 hectares, beans on 180,000 hectares while wheat will be grown on 15,000 hectares.
Rice and Irish Potatoes will occupy 6,700 and 80,000 hectares respectively.
According to the Prime Minister, the government has increased its budget spending on agriculture to 9.5% of the budget and intends to hit the target set out in the Maputo Agreement of 10% in the next fiscal year.
As part of the government’s intervention for agricultural rescue and boost, the head of government business told the Senate that a Post-Harvest and Storage Task Force has been established in the Ministry of Agriculture and it is now operational.
He also noted that a post harvest handling, storage and marketing strategy is complete and ready to be discussed and validated at various levels while a clear CIP strategy for the next seven years is now available and should be used as planning tool for post harvest activities.
“We are trying to set up post harvest infrastructure and facilities which will enable us reduce post harvest losses from the current 30% to 5%,” said Makuza.
He added that other EAC countries have a comparative advantage but Rwanda would be able to fit in the competition by emphasizing on quality.
“We plan to reduce the cost of production by intensification and emphasize on mechanization, enhance research for the introduction of high yielding varieties of staple crops as well as embarking on research for appropriate post-harvest technologies,” he said.
Makuza also added that the government intended to improve agro-product packaging by establishing a packaging plant in the country and improve market information access.
Following the Prime Minister’s detailed presentation, Senators expressed satisfaction with the government’s agricultural plan.