Agriculture minister Christopher Bazivamo oozes confidence that come next season, the country is tripling its agricultural output.
This, despite the land not being “very productive because most of the farmers lack the necessary skills to ensure effective productivity,” as he explained to the Senate.
Skills, for example, that can ensure that no more soil is washed away by water through negligence and lack of maintenance of the terraces that were constructed at big cost.
Much as there is optimism that soil erosion is to be completely reduced to zero by the coming year, productivity cannot be enhanced enough through this to live our triple-productivity expectations.
As the minister looks for a clear strategy to address the poor skills of farmers in the country, we should also always do well to remember three sure-fire ways of increasing agricultural production.
These are: using improved seeds, applying fertilizers, and using some kind of low technology that can easily and cheaply increase the acreage under crop.
High-yielding seeds that have been approved by agricultural research institutes, instead of our traditional seeds that give low yields and take long to reach maturity, distributed far and wide in the deepest corners of Rwanda, will go a very long way in answering low harvest figures.
The fertilizers, artificial or the home-made compost manure, do rejuvenate poor and tired soils. Intervention here is very much needed as the artificial ones are expensive, and there is lack of enthusiasm and know-how to produce the home-made fertilisers.
Then the hand hoe should be retired in the interests of today’s technology-successes. We need to address agricultural technology more urgently so as to grow more food; otherwise the information technology people will not have enough to feed them.
The list could have well-trained agricultural extension officers on the ground to teach, guide and help our farming population to do things right.
These interventions do cost a tidy sum if all Rwandans are to benefit. But we have many aid agencies and development partners that can help in bringing the “Increase Agricultural Production” campaign to fruition. That is what friends are for.