Rwanda’s flagship agricultural programmes, which are credited with turning around the country’s food security fortunes, could come a cropper due to mismanagement.
According to the Auditor-General’s report for 2014/2015, which was released last month, billions of francs invested in the crop intensification and irrigation programmes have been wasted through mismanagement and neglect by those supposed to implement them.
Agricultural programmes topped the list of government initiatives that have been delayed or mismanaged during the implementation phase.
According to the report, the crop intensification programme, which was launched in 2007, is no longer progressing as expected due to mismanagement.
“Weaknesses continue to persist in the implementation of the crop intensification programme in respect to failure to ensure that procured seeds reach the intended beneficiaries or farmers.
“For seasons 2015A and 2015B, there were significant shortfalls in deliveries to farmers. For example, in season 2015A, only 0.9 per cent of the requested wheat seeds were issued by Rwanda Agriculture Board to the districts,” the AG said in the report.
Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) has been singled out for failing to follow through on the programme, which has been credited by Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for transforming Rwanda from a food deprived country to a food secure one.
“The failure to deliver requested seeds to farmers occurred albeit RAB having quantities of seeds in its stores. For example, during the year ended 30 June 2015, RAB purchased 611.2 tonnes of maize seeds worth Rwf238 million that had not been issued out of its stores by the time of audit in April 2016,” the AG said.
It was further found that agro-dealers were unable to sell seeds to farmers with quantities of seeds not accounted for by the agro-dealers at the end of the seasons.
“The above failures affected farmers’ access to seeds they needed for planting. This may have adversely affected the yields for seasons 2015A and 2015B,” the report further says.
Low agricultural output
Parts of Rwanda, mainly the Eastern and Southern Provinces, experienced low agricultural output for the 2015A and 2015B seasons and farmers partly blamed the low productivity on delayed government extension services and limited rain.
“The inefficiencies in distribution of seeds ultimately affect agricultural productivity and threaten food security in the country,” the AG, Obadiah Biraro, noted.
He warned that the Ministry of Agriculture and its stakeholders need to review the current mechanisms of implementing the crop intensification programme.
Efforts to speak to the Minister of State for Agriculture Tony Nsanganira were futile as his phone went unanswered while the head of Crop Production and Food Security Department at RAB, Dr Telesphore Ndabamenye said he needed more time to review the AG’s findings.
“I have not read in detail what the Auditor-General noted. The findings were many and require time to assess,” Dr Ndabamenye said, promising to address the queries next week.
Irrigation scheme vandalised
Mr Biraro also pointed out that a multimillion irrigation project in Eastern Province has been vandalised and abandoned.
The project located in Musheri Sector, Nyagatare District, is an irrigation scheme spanning 200 hectares, made up of 110 hectares of a sprinkler system and 90 hectares of a drip irrigation system. According to the AG, it broke down but was not repaired. It cost Rwf2.7 billion.
“From the field visit conducted on April 16, it was noted that neither the sprinkler system nor drip irrigation system was working because equipment worth Rwf103,652,682 had been vandalised and stolen.
“Though management indicates that the case has been reported to police, it is important that the system is repaired promptly to bring it into operation. The opportunity cost of keeping it idle is high in terms of negative impact on the agricultural activities in the area,” the AG noted.