Recent gains in food security need to be complemented

Inflation, that is now an important issue for planners both at local and regional levels, is known to be caused by prices of basic items like staple foods in any country. While inflation can now be said to be under control in Rwanda, the issue remains a huge challenge for our neighbouring countries.One of the reasons that can be attributed to the low inflation figures in Rwanda is the stabilisation of farm gate prices of various agricultural products through correct measures.

Inflation, that is now an important issue for planners both at local and regional levels, is known to be caused by prices of basic items like staple foods in any country. While inflation can now be said to be under control in Rwanda, the issue remains a huge challenge for our neighbouring countries.

One of the reasons that can be attributed to the low inflation figures in Rwanda is the stabilisation of farm gate prices of various agricultural products through correct measures.

As Rwanda’s economy is still heavily dependent on agriculture, government has successfully rolled out appropriate programmes meant to ensure the turn around of the sector in line with aspirations for transformation.

Very many reform programmes are ongoing from land consolidation to crop intensification. The idea is to boost productivity of farm crops. The other being, streamlining agricultural supply chain such as improving on post harvest techniques.

It was very refreshing to be informed that agrarian reforms in Rwanda have started bearing fruits. For instance, it is very good news being told that over 60 percent of all arable land is now consolidated.

The implication is that a vast majority of farmers now have access to inputs like improved seeds and even subsidized fertilizers, according to media reports.

So far, such initiatives have brought in other benefits. Rwanda is now known to be food secure in a region that can be said to be suffering from food shortages.

That is the main reason we can now say that price stability of agricultural food stuffs is also one of the key drivers of the low inflation registered in the country.

That is not to say that the fight to turn around agriculture in Rwanda has been won. With the good news reported, however, challenges still remain in enabling the agricultural sector to achieve its full potential.

Along with new measures, mechanization is still something that needs to be looked into so that a bigger number of farmers can be enabled to produce more, using the very latest means of production.

If the rapid uptake of telecoms in Rwanda is any measure of how the local person can embrace modern technology, then one can say with some level of certainty that the very latest reforms in agriculture such as the use of green house technology can be deployed on a massive scale. 

If such measures are stepped up, mechanization along with other innovations such as provision of favourable credit lines along with taking extension services closer to the farmers, will work to further boost productivity across the board, thereby hastening the transformation of the sector that supports more than half of the population.

There are numerous success stories that point out the very possibility of ensuring a complete over haul of Rwanda’s agricultural sector in the shortest time frame. A friend of mine, who has worked with rural farmers for the last 3 years, has never been tired of telling me how farmers are reaping the rewards of coffee sector reforms.

This very friend says that tales of farmers, for instance, in Kirehe District earning fat cheques running into thousands of dollars cannot be said to be news, considering that only the other day, the very same coffee farmers were even contemplating uprooting their coffee trees.

This particular story illustrates the fact that indeed the turn around planned is easily achievable.

The author is an editor with The New Times
fredoluoch@yahoo.com

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