Roots and tubers are considered key crops on which a big number of populations around Africa depend to feed their families and of course in fighting against hunger amongst rural residents.
Through a three day workshop organized by MINAGRI and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s project “Strengthening linkages between buyers and small actors in the roots and tubers sector in Africa’ (ART), seven African countries met in Kigali on November 28, 2017 to assess the climate change risk management for roots and tubers in Africa in order to support farmers increase productivity and production of cassava, yam and potatoes.
The project is supported by FAO and European Union and gathers together seven countries which are Cameroon, Benin, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi, Uganda and Rwanda.
At the end of the workshop, participants expect to present the current gaps and opportunities in relation to use of weather and climate information by the roots and tubers producers, present available climate risk management tools and methods for application at the national and local levels and explore new and innovative tools as well as methods that can be up-scaled and ensure sustainability.
Benin focuses on Cassava and yam, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon and Malawi fall on the same crop which is ‘Cassava’ while Uganda and Rwanda grow Irish potatoes.
Speaking to the media during the workshop opening, Jean Claude Kayisinga, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources said that Rwanda has invested efforts in roots and tubers which considered as a milestone for Rwandans’ food security as they contain much calories.
“This meeting will help us to seek solutions together as we have many people gathered here from different countries to share information and knowledge on how they help farmers in their countries to increase production following the effects of climate change on such crops,” Kayisinga said.
One of the outcomes of the workshop is that farmers will be able to make new seeds resisting to the climate change, make best practices that help farmers to avoid pests, and have information about the timing for farms preparation as each season starts.
Kayisinga said that among the measures Rwanda has already put in place are to avail timely climate change information to farmers.
He further noted that the country has started to produce new varieties of Irish potatoes resisting to the climate change.
“The climate change is not only affecting one country, it is worldwide, and even in Rwanda, we have been affected by the climate change since you look different timing of rain fall, things have been changing as sometimes we use to get rain fall from September, but now some times we get it in October, we found it’s the challenge for our famers,” Kayisinga said.
He said that they try to do research during such circumstances and seek ways to get varieties that are resistant to the climate change and diseases.
He noted that the workshop will enable member-countries of the project to make sure that all kinds of information are shared and that they have tools that can support farmers for risk management on climate change.
Arnaud DE VANSSAY, EU-Rwanda delegation’s 2nd secretary and Team leader of rural development section said EU invested much in climate change risk management, and that roots and tubers are critically for the food security for many countries not only for Rwanda.
For Moussa DJAGOUDI, FAO-Officer in charge of Agribusiness, Regional Coordinator of Regional Office for Africa, the initiative will boost linkage between small holder farmers with buyers by mitigating the risks of climate change.
“One of the issues that we may see is strengthening linkages between small holder actors and buyers, most of the time we support production of our commodity but we do not anticipate how are we going to sell the produce, it is very important for us to take into consideration all along the value chain including climate risk management,” said Djagoudi.
Salomon Mbarushimana, president of Seed Potato Fund that is engaged to avail intensified Irish potato seeds to local farmers said that the workshop will enable local farmers to manage climate change risks as they will be closer with trained and skilled actors who will be able to assist them.
He noted that graduate-agronomists will need such trainings to be able to help farmers get quality and quantity produce.
Seed potato fund works in ten districts of Rwanda which are producers of Irish potatoes in northern, southern and western provinces and works with 233 Irish potato seed multipliers countrywide.
Around 3 million local farmers who are in Agriculture will benefit from the initiative as Kayisinga said.