RUBAVU — The government has plans to help farmers in Rubavu District and other parts of the Western Province to make proper use of the existing fertile volcanic soils to grow more Irish potatoes in order to address food shortages. The minister of State for Industry, Vincent Karega, said this recently while visiting Rubavu.
Karega explained that proper use of the few existing natural resources in the improvement of people’s living standard was one of the government’s visions.
“The government has already started providing farmers in the Western Province with quality seeds, and district agricultural officials will make continuous visits to educate farmers on better farming methods which is expected to make a tremendous increase in production,” said Karega.
He said that the food shortages and rising prices were partially related to poor farming methods, poor seeds and limited cooperation between farmers and local leaders.
“The Western and Northern Provinces are some of the biggest producers of Irish potatoes which is Rwanda’s staple food, and they are the main suppliers to many towns including the capital Kigali. This is why the fight against food shortages should start from here,” he said.
According to the district mayor Celestin Twagirayezu, farmers have been encouraged to form and work in cooperative unions so as to easily access government support.
“We recently put all Irish potato growers into cooperative unions which we hope will increase the general production in the district,” Twagirayezu said.
Papius Ndibeshe, the head of Rubavu District Farmers’ Cooperatives noted that farmers have previously been exploited by traders that come from towns to buy produce from individual farmers. He said working in cooperatives will increase production and help enhance farmers’ income.
“Through cooperatives, farmers have accessed improved seeds and the current government involvement to provide improved seed and fertilisers will increase production,” he said.
He said that although there were already existing cooperatives in the district, another cooperative was recently formed to control the functioning of the small ones.
“The United Cooperative Union which will have representatives from all the other small cooperative unions will mainly focus on helping farmers to access good seeds and market for their products.
“The Union will open up food stores in various towns from where traders will buy produce, unlike in the past when they used transport costs as an excuse to exploit farmers,” he added.