By Elias Hakizimana
They can’t probably grow all the maize to satisfy the entire District’s demand, but, at least, these Kicukiro District residents want to see plantations of maize being part of the District’s features, contributing to the beautification of its look, and of course, its food security. They do not want to see their district’s surface covered only by storey-buildings, apartments, and tarmac roads.
To this end, Kicukiro residents in Masaka Sector on the site of Kagese joined hands to plant maize on consolidated 78 hectares of land, on Wednesday, September 20, 2017.
The initiative was organized by Kicukiro District leaders in line with launching the season A of the farming year 2018.
In fact, three districts making up the City of Kigali are largely dedicated for urbanisation, and, as a result, agriculture has small place to occupy.
Kicukiro is inhabited with over 340,000 people.
Anathole Uwamahoro, a farmer from the area told The inspirer that they expect good harvest as they use fertilizers and thanks to the current climatic conditions which give hope for rain.
Charlotte Ingabire, a farmer from Cyeru Village in Rusheshe Cell of Masaka Sector said one challenge would be lack of rain in the middle of the season, but they are ready to spray pesticides to fight armyworm — the pest that ravaged maize crops last year both in Rwanda and, almost the entire African continent.
The pest is still a serious threat to maize crops and food security in general, according the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which calls for concerted efforts to address.
“We are starting to spray pesticides soon after sowing, also during germination and weeding, so that we can get good yield,” Ingabire said, referring to combatting the crop eroding armyworm.
Ingabire noted that the current area was covered by banana plantations, but, farmers decided to replace them with maize after revealing banana was not giving enough produce.
Marcel Mugesera, 77 year-old farmer from Masaka Sector, has been a farmer for a ‘long period.’
He said it is very important to work together to grow crops as it is a means to fighting hunger, which he considers ” the only bad war that undermines people.”
Mukunde Angelique, Kicukiro Vice-Mayor for Finance and Economic Development said the season A was dedicated for maize from which they expect to harvest enough.
“Today, we have chosen Kagese site to plant maize crop on a consolidated 78 ha of land. In line with improving strategies to get desired yields, we have conducted several meetings with farmer promoters and farmers in general and we decided to plant maize on this site,” Mukunde said.
According to her, the new strategies were put in place to avoid poor production this year as compared to the last agriculture season where plants were damaged by armyworms.
“The new strategies include early follow up on the crops from sowing, and during germination by spraying pesticides to kill armyworms’ eggs before they develop into crop damaging pests,” Mukunde observed pointing out that farmers were also given enough advice and “we expect much rain that will give them a hand to succeed this ‘battle.'”
In case of rain shortage, she said the district plans to help farmers with small scale irrigation as a strategy to ensure crop productivity.
Damien Nsabiyumva, Masaka Sector Agronomist, said farmers used to get 1 to 1.5 tonnes before adopting the land use consolidation but now with this strategy, they can get 4.5 to 5 tonnes per hectare
Masaka alone will plant maize on 544 hectares from which they expect to harvest some 2,000 tonnes under favorable climatic conditions, and without pests.
An overview on land use challenge in the country
In February this year, parliamentarians raised concern over arable land that was being shifted to other uses, especially construction (for settlement), warning that such practice poses a threat to the country’s food security as population growth is on the rise.
A report released in march 2016, on assessment and Evaluation of National Land Use and Development Master Plan implementation (NLUDMP), jointly carried out by the taskforce team composed of the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA), Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA), representatives from the Ministry of local Government MINALOC and (five) selected districts, showed that in general, there is lack of compliance to standards and regulations related to land use planning and management.
This appraisal was carried out in five sampled districts of the country, namely Kicukiro in the City of Kigali, Musanze (as a secondary city) in Northern Province, Kamonyi of Southern Province, Ngoma in Eastern Province and Karongi in Western Province ( the last three being rural districts).
Some observed challenges from the appraisal include lack of enforcement of land use plans, increasing level of urban sprawl (rural land being urbanized as a result of people’s relocation) and informal settlements both in urban and rural areas, poor implementation of ‘Umudugudu’ (village) policy, poor environmental protection where buffers of lakes, rivers, wetlands and protected forests are misused.
In Kicukiro District, no land is reserved for agriculture; all the land is planned for residential and other uses, and the only land for agriculture is found in wetlands. However, agriculture is carried out in zones that are not yet developed mainly in Masaka and Gahanga sectors.
The report revealed that Kicukiro had 5,261 ha for agriculture, yet 377 shifted to other uses.
It recommended, among other things, that participation of local communities in land use planning process should be mandatory.
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