This is with reference to Alline Akintore’s article, “We cannot allow to be labelled a hungry nation”, (The New Times, August 5). I wish to thank the author for the well written piece.
Such indices normally sound alarm bells. This shouldn’t surprise any normal thinking Rwandan. With a population density of 281 persons per square kilometer, Rwanda is only third to Mauritius and Comoros as the most densely populated country in Africa.
The population is still growing at a fast rate. Elementary population studies show that improvement of health services is directly proportional to population explosion. This means that Rwanda’s population will continue to grow, because of the famous “Mutuelle de Santé”, but Rwanda’s borders are not expanding; neither is land getting more fertile. This, therefore calls for more serious and sustainable hunger mitigation measures.
If you ask anyone at the Ministry of Agriculture (Minagri), they will tell you of improved seeds, one cow, and IPM campaigns etc. But all these will not counter the high population increase that Rwanda will experience in the next ten years.
So here’s my solution: Introduce GMOs and intensive biotechnology. While there is still debate on the long term consequences of biotechnology, most of the negative criticism of it has no scientific basis.
GMOs and biotechnology are the only solution to Rwanda’s per capita food production. Presently average production of maize per hectare is four tonnes, but transgenic maize will produce 15 tonnes.
James Munanura, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
Alline Akintore has introduced a timely topic and Rwandans should indeed discuss the root causes of food insecurity in the country. More questions are to be yet discussed.
In terms of food security, as far as I know, we are not only talking about food production (quantity) but also food quality (calories per day) that a Rwandan consumes (this is closely linked to nutrition) as well as affordability (even if there maybe food stuffs on the market. The question is whether a Rwandan can afford to purchase it).
Personally, I see many factors leading to food insecurity: Much investment has mainly been focused on cash crops (coffee, tea, pyrethrum -- even maize is promoted in this line of making money).
Of course it is good that Rwanda focuses on making profits since we need foreign currency; however, there is urgent need to ensure more food crops are promoted as well.
Innocent Hitayezu, Kigali, Rwanda
Introduce GMOs to boost food production