Rwanda has recorded a surplus in food production due to heavy government investment in fertilisers, improved seeds and extension services.
In the first half of this year, production grew by 8.2 per cent, driven by roots, tubers and cereals.
The good yield is a result of the Crop Intensification Programme the government launched in 2007, to improve productivity and increase access to fertilisers.
The government imported fertilisers and seeds in bulk, then trained district and sector agronomists as well as beneficiary farmers on their application.
The quantity of imported fertiliser for example, grew to 22,400 tonnes in August 2007, up from 14,000 tonnes the previous year when it was imported only for export crops such as tea and coffee.
Improved seeds for maize, wheat, Irish potatoes and cassava cuttings increased farming to approximately 40 per cent of the country’s arable land which now stands at 250,000 hectares.
“Every year we are pushing further and ensuring that farmers have access to more fertilisers and seeds,” said Agnes Kalibata, State Minister in charge of Agriculture.
Dr Kalibata said that while poor rainfall patterns in the second part of the year particularly in the Eastern and Southern Province have affected output, it will not impact heavily on the country’s food security status.
“We have been investing in Cassava which will come in handy in case we experience a food shortage,” said Dr Kalibata.
Besides, the country has recorded a boom in maize production, after investing in a new variety called SC514 that can produce between five and nine tonnes per hectare.
In order to enhance food production, the government is now shifting focus to the next season.
“We are determined to put in much more effort by emphasising short duration crops like beans and vegetables so that we do not lose everything in case of a natural disaster,” said Dr Kalibata.
The government also plans to expand irrigation and support environmentally sustainable production methods to tackle the endemic problems of soil erosion in the countryside.
“We are going to invest in more dams and water catchment areas,” she said.
Dr Kalibata also says the government will invest in food storage facilities mostly at the local level, and support agro-processing.
Plans are also underway to increase the country’s arable land to 500,000 hectares.