The meeting focused on increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers through easing the access to seeds and fertilizers as well as promoting citizens’ well-being.
Among the reasons that were given justifying the scarcity of seeds and fertilizers was the rise in the dollar value that leads to high market prices and the fact that 80% of fertilizers are imported from abroad.
It is expected that by 2020, Rwanda will have a fertilizer industry that will contribute to enhancing agriculture and meet the ever-growing food demand.
Rwanda has so far partnered with private institutions including Morocco’s OCP group, one of the leading exporters of phosphate fertilizers and launched ‘The Caravan’, a mobile soil-testing laboratory to enhance soil fertility, plant growth, and increased crop yields.
OCP Africa founded in 1920, is one of the leading exporters of phosphate rock, phosphoric acid and phosphate fertilizers in the world. It will invest Rwf 5.4 billion in the project and will own 57.4% of the shares in the ‘Caravan’ company which will be named “Rwanda Fertilizer Company’. 30% of the shares will be owned by Agro-Processing Trust Corporation (APTC) and Rwanda will own the remaining 12.6%.
Jean Claude Izamuhaye, Head of Department, Crop Research and Technology Transfer at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) says the problem of seeds scarcity is gradually being solved.
“The problem is being addressed and starting in 2020, we will implement initiatives aiming at increasing seeds and fertilizer accessibility especially for high-altitude farming. By the beginning of July next year, we expect to be fully sufficient in seeds.”
He added that seeds that are prepared within the country will only be distributed in the original districts they were prepared in.
Currently, 305 farmers in Rwanda practice seed multiplication and that leads to sustained agricultural production.
Growing selected forage seeds and manufacturing fertilizers started in Rwanda in 2007. Locally prepared seeds include maize, beans, Irish potatoes, rice and wheat and are used for domestic and international consumption. After the initiative was put in place, farmers complained about the scarcity and high prices of seeds.
During the meeting, farmers said they face the constraint of not being involved by policymakers during the process of formulating policies and that leads to low agriculture yield. Only 23% of farmers in Rwanda are involved in decision making.
One of the resolutions of the meeting was that the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) will be informing farmers about real market prices of seeds and fertilizers as a way of building agribusiness capacities and increasing agriculture yield.