Eastern Province faulted for poor farming methods

Leaders in Eastern Province must do more to promote modern farming methods, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Agnes Kalibata, has said.
Dr Agnes Kalibata, Minister for Agriculture
Dr Agnes Kalibata, Minister for Agriculture

Leaders in Eastern Province must do more to promote modern farming methods, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Agnes Kalibata, has said.

While meeting with stakeholders in the agriculture sector on Wednesday, Dr Kalibata said despite government efforts to scale up fertilisers use, their application in the province remains minimal. 

“You indicate increasing of productivity in your performance contracts, but how do you asses it? It’s not measurable. It’s redundant and not enforceable. It can only be determined through assessing the degree of use of fertilisers,” she said.

Dr Kalibata said Eastern Province lags in use of fertilisers.

“We wanted to move from 16 per cent fertiliser use to at least 40 per cent use in this province. This is the target. Fertiliser use hasn’t reached even 50 per cent, when in districts such as Gakenke, it is at 91 per cent. You have to be committed, get serious on fertiliser use and understand productivity,” the minister said.

She also warned about poor fishing methods in the province, which she said threatens existence of newly-bred fish species. The minister said fishing should be done in a manner that promotes the industry in the country.

“You find young fish on the market, how can that happen? We can’t keep on importing fish stocks for our lakes; we are faced with a possible extinction of fish in our lakes. Culprits should be severely punished,” Dr Kalibata said.

There are 15 water bodies in Eastern Province.

Dr Kalibata also lamented that use of mechanisation was at extremely low levels, compared to the existing machinery.

She said although the ministry committed 13 tractors to farmers in the province, only few hectares of land are earmarked for cultivation in districts.

“Tractors were moved from other parts of the country to Eastern Province, we expect cultivated land to more than double, to at least 5,000 hectares per district. I am surprised by the districts targeted area of cultivation, which is not even three-quarters of our expectations,” she said.

The minister, however, applauded the province for the proper management of One-Cow-Per-Family programme, which she said was done in an exemplary way.

Governor Odette Uwamariya said she shares similar concerns with the minister, promising to iron out gaps. 

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