Government moves to tackle wheat scarcity

The Rwanda Agriculture Board (Rab) has announced plans to increase wheat production this season by facilitating farmers to cultivate a total of 50,000 hectares in the districts where the crop thrives.
Azham millers factory in the Kigali Special Economic Zone. The New Times/ John Mbanda.
Azham millers factory in the Kigali Special Economic Zone. The New Times/ John Mbanda.

The Rwanda Agriculture Board (Rab) has announced plans to increase wheat production this season by facilitating farmers to cultivate a total of 50,000 hectares in the districts where the crop thrives.

This is aimed at tackling wheat scarcity that has forced local processors to incur high costs by importing the cereal.

Officials at Rab also say they will distribute new improved varieties with protein content.

Rab Deputy Director-General for agriculture extension Innocent Musabyimana said the varieties have already been tested and are ready for distribution to farmers.

“The potential yield of the new varieties is five to six metric tonnes per hectare,” he said adding that this will significantly tackle wheat scarcity.

How it will work

Last season a total of 28,000 hectares were cultivated in the country and the yield was only for subsistence consumption, but now the potential high yield will be aimed at satisfying processing plants.

‘’We have put farmers at the forefront of the extension using farming advisors at village levels to build capacity on best agriculture practices,” he said.

He said the wheat will be grown on consolidated land and farmers’ cooperatives will sign contracts with processing plants to ensure the harvest has a ready market.

“Rab will follow wheat farmers closely, increase access to fertilisers, and link them to the processors,” he said.

Julius Ndunga, the head miller at Bakhresa Grain Milling-Rwanda (BGM) Rwanda, said BGM had a daily capacity to process 250 tonnes and noted that local growers only supply a paltry 0.1 per cent, while the rest is imported from the US, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Russia, Ukraine and Australia.

Giving an example of 2011, Musabyimana said around 82,000 metric tonnes were imported, and once the targeted 50,000 hectares are cultivated locally, Rwanda would be self-sufficient in wheat production.

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