Rice farmers in Muvumba marshland in Nyagatare district are expected to post increased production worth Rwf3.5 billion each season once they adopt best agricultural practices, Agriculture minister Agnes Kalibata has said.
With modern farming techniques, yield is expected to hit at least 7 tonnes per hectare, Dr Kalibata said.
She was recently meeting with the rice farmers in the district.
The total area of Muvumba marshland is 1,700 hectares, 700 of which has been given to Indian investors for rice production. The remaining area was distributed to individual local farmers.
Previously, the big part of the marshland was owned by local breeders and used as pastoral land.
Livestock farmers were evicted from the marshland, with compensation, following the government’s decision to extend the marshland for the purpose of rice farming.
This planting season 2013 B, maize was planted on an area of 700 hectare, as this area was not yet prepared for rice farming.
The Ministry’s Rural Sector Support Project is working on extension works of the marshland so that the whole area can be used for rice production.
The minister has allowed the farmers to plant maize until next season, but asked them to speed up extension works so that by next year the whole marshland will be planted with rice.
However, farmers raised concerns of insufficiency of tractors for agriculture mechanisation, and limited knowledge on rice farming.
The minister recognised the need to give tractors to the farmers and said some tractors owned by the ministry that are not being used or the ones being underutilised would be given to Muvumba farmers.
“To facilitate the farmers, the government will buy the tractors and farmers hire them cheaply,’’ she said, “but the government is not yet financially able to buy many of tractors to satisfy all the farmers’ needs countrywide,” Dr Kalibata said.
Responding to the issue of limited knowledge on rice farming, the minister said the government is deploying trained agronomist to help farmers.
The government has injected $13 million (about Rwf83 billion) to the project of extending Muvumba marshland.
Muvumba marshland touches two Nyagatare’s sectors namely Tabagwe and
The marshland currently has drying bays, storage facilities, and Indian investors plan to establish rice processing plant.
The minister said the Indian investors owned plant is estimated to be established in six months.