More accurate agriculture data will guide policy

Tuesday October 3 2017

Rwadan small scale farmers.

Rwadan small scale farmers. Rwanda needs a clear strategy to boost productivity amid increasing fragmentation of land. PHOTO FILE | NATION 

By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
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The National Institute of Statistics (NISR) says it will soon release an upgraded seasonal agriculture survey with highly accurate and precise agricultural data.

The comprehensive annual seasonal agriculture survey covers three agricultural seasons of the year, and provides results related to crop production such as land status and tenure, crops grown, use of agricultural inputs, agricultural practices involved, production and expenses.

It also analyses use of production, loans related to agriculture and post-harvest activities.

NISR director-general Yussuf Murangwa, said unlike previous seasonal agriculture surveys, the new approach provides both national and district estimates based on a set of variables that are household based using high resolution satellite imagery.

He added that this will enable the institute to provide timely and accurate information needed to guide decisions and policies.

Mr Murangwa was speaking a week ago during a field visit together with the head of the EU Delegation to Rwanda, which funded the project, and the Minister of Agriculture.
With the population set to reach 12 million, Rwanda needs a clear strategy to boost productivity amid increasing fragmentation of land, which sees soil shrinking and its fertility compromised. Official statistics put the total size of arable land at an estimated 1.5 million hectares, which is about 0.5ha per farmer.

More than 30 per cent of the country’s farmers are estimated to be holding less than 0.2ha farmland each, which is mostly located in hills, hence low yields and high risk of land degradation.
Michael Ryan, head of the EU Delegation to Rwanda said an upgraded agriculture survey using cutting-edge technology is good for farmers especially those in the rural areas whose main income depends on agriculture.

The results of the 2017 Seasonal Agriculture Survey, the first to be compiled using technology in Rwanda, is expected to be released in December.

Officials from the agriculture ministry said it will provide current information about production of priority crops such as wheat, maize, rice, beans, soya beans, cassava and potatoes.