By Jean d’Amour Mugabo
Drawing on the views of the farmers across the country, Rwandan media has recommended the Government to harmonise the distribution of seeds and fertilisers to farmers by ensuring timely delivery and quality of seeds, among other 12 recommendations.
The recommendations were reached at the national dialogue organised by Pax Press at Kigali Serena Hotel on Tuesday, bringing together about 100 people from different sectors including public and private, civil society, farmers and the media.
Pax Press is an NGO bringing together 174 journalists from 35 media houses including TV and Radio stations, print and online publications with the mission of promoting professional media under the slogan “Informing for Peace,” according to the Pax Press National Coordinator Mr. Albert Baudouin Twizeyimana.
He said the dialogue held under the theme “Improved Seeds and Fertilisers distribution process for a real socio-economic transformation”, was the eighth annual dialogue the NGO has organised over the last seven years and that every dialogue is held around the most pertinent issue among all the issues raised by the citizens during the community debates that Pax Press regularly carries out in rural areas across the country.
Mr. Adolphe Higiro, the Project Manager for Public Policy Information Monitoring and Advocacy (PPIMA) at Pax Press said the major problems found in agriculture inputs’ distribution during the community debates held in 2019 include too high prices of seeds and fertilisers which also keep increasing every year, delay of delivery of seeds and fertilisers ordered by the farmers, poor quality of some seeds and lack of agro-dealers in many communities, forcing farmers to travel long distances to buy inputs afar. PPIMA project is being implemented by Pax Press with the funding of Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA).
Dr Charles Murekezi, the Director General for Agriculture Development at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), commended Pax Press and its partners for reaching out to the farmers and bringing out the issues that affect their activities and said the Government of Rwanda is committed to supporting the farmers through enhancing the distribution of agriculture inputs and making them affordable to make farming more profitable to the farmers.
“Over 70% of Rwandans are engaged in agriculture and it remains important in ensuring food security, improving incomes and creating jobs in rural areas. The challenge in the agriculture sector is most farmers have smallholdings and have tended to engage in subsistence farming,” he said.
Munyakazi, PhD, said since the Crop Intensification Programme (CIP) was established in 2007, there has been good increase in the use of inputs.
“Improved seeds increased from 3% in 2006 to 12.5% in 2018 in small-scale farms and 53.1% for large-scale farmers. Before CIP was initiated in 2007, fertiliser application averaged about 4.2 kg/ha per year, among the lowest fertiliser utilization rate in the world, but stood at 39kg/ha in 2018. The production of maize since 2007 has increased by 314% and almost similar increases have been witnessed with Irish potato and rice,” he said.
Solutions in the offing
Dr Munyakazi admitted that despite the gains registered so far, there are still several challenges including poor farmers’ knowledge of the benefit of improved seeds and fertilisers, drastic increase of inputs prices especially for imported inputs, limited access to inputs as the agro-dealer stores are a distance from some farmers while some sectors lack a resident agro-dealer, delays in delivery of inputs to farmers due to delays along the distribution channel, poor quality of seeds delivered to farmers, among others.
He said expected solutions include the construction of fertiliser factory in Bugesera District which is expected to be operational by next year, increasing seeds producers to have one in every cell across the country, compelling agro-dealers to open more distribution outlets to reach every sector, among others.
Mr Twizeyimana appreciated the partners’ support in making the dialogue a success and said in his closing remarks that Pax Press will keep bring out the citizens’ concerns and partner with the Government in finding the solutions for the benefits of citizens.