Rwanda’s food security situation last year improved by an impressive 16.4 percent due to an increase in the output of major food crops, according to the report.
The 2008 Annual Agriculture Report, released last week during the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Programme (CAADP) Post-Compact meeting said its was the first time in fours years where Rwanda’s food production exceeded its consumption needs. The meeting was held in Kigali Serena hotel.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the increase in food security was partly due to a reduction in post harvest losses through working with smallholder producers that improved the storage of food staple crops to meet Rwanda’s storage capacity of 12,000 metric tonnes.
The report says that during the first season of 2008, food availability reached 2,176 calories (Kcal) per person per day and this increased in the second season to 2,343 Kcal per person per day.
This means that food availability throughout the year was well above the globally recommended daily intake of 2,100 Kcal per person.
The report also stresses that although both production and consumption were not evenly spread across all households and individuals, there was a considerable increase in national food security.
“The substantial yields last year can also be attributed to a near doubling of cassava production as a result of the ministry’s promotion of cassava activities and the success in combating cassava mosaic disease,” report says.
The Crop Intensification Program by the Ministry also boosted wheat production by 31 percent while root and tuber production increased by 39 percent along with bananas which are the widely grown crops.
Statistics from Rwanda Agriculture Development Authority (RADA) indicate that this year food production has continued improving with Rwanda’s overall agricultural production for the season between February and June going up by 6.5 percent as compared to the same season last year.
Figures show that the national food balance sheet for the period between February and June shows a surplus of 197 metric tones. This excludes imports and food aid. This was boosted by a 38 percent rise in rice production as wheat increased by 14 percent.
Last year’s performance was also due to the steps taken by the government to transform the sector including creating 2,195 hectares of radical terraces and 6,849 hectares of progressive terraces.
The current upward trend to agricultural output is a strong boost to 80 percent of Rwanda’s working population that is employed by the agriculture sector.
Agriculture also contributes over 30 percent of the national Gross Domestic Products and generates about 80 percent of Rwanda’s total export revenues.