NYANZA — The country loses over 15 tonnes of top soil largely due to soil erosion, the Minister of Agriculture has said.
Addressing local farmers on Tuesday, minister Christophe Bazivamo said soil erosion affects the feeding of some 40,000 people annually.
Bazivamo noted that the campaign to eradicate soil erosion is expected to have been completed by the year 2009.
He said, “During the 2007 Akagera retreat government set 2009 as the deadline for stopping the problem of soil erosion in the country.”
The minister revealed that apart from adversely affecting the agriculture sector, that has registered a zero percent growth in the last five years, soil erosion has led to loss of lives in some parts of the country in the last two years.
There were 45 deaths reported in Bigogwe, Western Province and Gakenke in the Northern Province, last year due to heavy rains.
The catastrophe is believed to have been caused by lack proper soil erosion control measures like construction of canals/terraces or planting trees on steep slopes to curtail the running water from the hills. Property was also lost.
The meeting in Nyanza mainly focused on the implementation of the high yield demonstration hill commonly referred to as Indatwa hill normally set up in every Village (Mudugudu).
On this hill, residents are expected to construct terraces or canals to fight soil erosion and plant trees. It is expected to be a model village where residents practice modern agriculture and livestock farming with assistance from agricultural extension staff.
Families are expected to have what has been dubbed as a ‘kitchen garden’ that will make it possible for families to have a regular supply of vegetables. They are also expected to plant fruit trees, harvest water and keep proper hygiene among others.
According to Bazivamo, the Agasozi Indatwa initiative is expected to cover 100 hectares over time. Meaning 1.4million hectares of cultivable land in Rwanda will be covered with proper planned agriculture after all the 14,000 villages in the country implement the programme.
Local leaders were urged to mobilize their communities to embrace the programme and were given until October 15 this year to have completed the implementation phase.
Bazivamo explained that the Agasozi Indatwa initiative is a way of speeding up development in the rural areas and works concurrently with other initiatives like the Vision 2020 Umurenge and the Green revolution.
The Agasozi Indatwa initiative will also be competitive. According to Minister Bazivamo, the best village in implementing the programme will be rewarded.
The competition will continue to the national level where the best performing district (with the best village) will also be rewarded.
The meeting was also attended by the Provincial Governor Fidel Ndayisaba, the Commander of the 4th division of RDF Brig. Gen. Mubarak Muganga, Provincial Police Commander Chief Superintendant Faustin Ntirushwa, area Mayors, agronomists and vets.