Monday, 11 February 2013

Rwanda: For Viable Agriculture, More Processing Is Required

For Sam Rubagumya of Nyagatare district, there is no doubt agriculture is a viable and profit-making sector. "Even farming can be a very lucrative occupation once it is practiced professionally," he says.

And he knows what he is talking about, with 27 years of experience in modern farming using best practices from plowing over weeding to post harvest handling. And accounting. "It also requires counting - the same way people do when they go shopping - to know exactly your expenses and expected production," says the 55-year-old.

Rubagumya exploits 50 ha in Nyagatare where he grows maize, and confirms that he can earn up to Frw 1.4 million per hectare. He is part of a group of farmers who consolidated their land in Muvumba marshland; the ministry of agriculture has already provided free hillside irrigation and mechanization infrastructure on a total land of more than 400 ha cultivated by more than 500 families. They also received improved crops and fertilizers, all of it at a total investment of Frw 5 billion.

A farmer in the area can now get between 4 and 7 tons of maize per hectare from 1.5 tons before, according to Jules Mporana, the coordinator of Government Funded Irrigation (GFI) in Nyagatare, the project that is monitoring all activities. The industry has really potential to transform life of the farmer, but also generates jobs for people in the area.

"We are doing so not only with the purpose to ensure food security, but also to make it a vibrant commercial activity," Mporana points out.

The same project is being tested in Kirehe. In addition, countrywide investments in crop intensification, use of fertilizers, terraces, land use consolidation, mechanization and irrigation among others have been promoted by Minagri to boost production. As a result, the ministry is predicting to get around 630,000 tons of maize and 560,000 tons of beans for this season only. Officials of the ministry last year announced a surplus of 300,000 tons of maize and 200,000 tons of beans.

Public investment in agriculture now stands at 13% of the national budget, though the wish is to reduce it to 10% as part of its workforce goes to the services sector. Currently, agriculture still employs 80% of the working population. The farming sector accounts for 30% of the GDP, and constitutes the main economic activity for the rural households. It also remains their main source of income.
Originl Article Here

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