Rwanda to wean off importing maize seeds by 2020

On 16 December 2019 at 12:37

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) has announced that Rwanda will stop importing maize seeds starting next year.

The decision comes after different methods of field preparation and seed invigoration were introduced where it is predicted that some crops seeds will stop being imported from abroad.

The announcement was made Friday, December 14th during the USAID-funded project ‘Feed the Future HingaWeze Project’ end of the year party.

Jean Claude Musabyimana, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture says more seed preparation methods have been introduced for crops like maize, wheat, soybeans, Irish potatoes, beans, and sweet potatoes.

He added that the Government of Rwanda has been spending more than Rwf 4 billion every year to import wheat, soybean and 3000 tons of maize seeds.

“We have established enough facilities to allow farmers to grow maize locally and be able to prepare seeds on their own.”

Musabyimana says the new methods will solve the scarcity of seeds and reduce import costs.

A research conducted by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) in August, 2019 shows that the supply of maize seeds is on 73%, beans on 69%, wheat on 73% and soybeans on 78%.

Adequate seed preparation has increased from 3% to 12.5% for small-scale agriculture and by 53.1% for large-scale farming.

Musabyimana says that for now, the focus is seed preparation for small-scale farming but that more will be done to produce for large-scale farming. “I believe that in the next two agricultural seasons, we will not be importing seeds but this does not mean farmers have no right to import whenever they wish.”

He added that MINAGRI continuously supports institutions involved in seed preparation and distribution across the country and overlooks their activities to ensure all the necessary actions are taken.

“We have staff in charge of research to find the types of seeds appropriate to our lands and climate. Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) for example, focuses on overlooking farming practices across the country while private institutions do the rest.”

Daniel Gies, Chief of Party of the USAID Hinga Weze Activity said that the three-year project will support more than 530,000 farmers to increase their crop yield, improve diets for women and children and growing crop varieties which are resilient to climate change.

“So far, the project has increased crop yield by 50% for 26488 small-scale farmers. Regarding soil conservation, 818.9 hectares were terraced while 50 hectares of swamplands were prepared.”

A project performance report indicates that 238,480 farmers benefited from it where 60,113 hectares are being used for modern farming with an investment of US $1,102,689.

The report also shows that 36, 718 farmers were brought together in saving cooperatives consisting of 8775 families all enjoying healthy diets while 22,271 children under the age of 2 also have access to healthy diets.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) has announced that Rwanda will stop importing maize seeds starting next year.