By Elias Hakizimana.
Rwanda is targeting 50 per cent of land to be mechanized by 2020 where one farmer out of two will be doing agriculture through mechanization.
Today mechanization is at 25 per cent meaning that one farmer out of four farmer’s uses mechanization in tilling, planting, harvesting, and other activities.
Oliver Sangwa, the agri-mechanisation technician at Rwanda Agriculture Board, says that at least 6,000 hectares of land every year is mechanized as over 7,000ha are targeted this year.
“We will be involving private sector, farmers in cooperatives to consolidate land to ease mechanization process. Government is currently paying farmers 18 per cent of the cost of mechanization equipment as part of subsidy strategy,” he said.
Theophile Uzayisenga a 30 years old from Karongi District holds a degree in agronomy after job opportunities did not come as easily as he expected, he later realized how agriculture had potential but was held back by lack of capital to venture into the sector. However, he benefited from a scheme for economically vulnerable farmers giving them rights to till idle land on where the proposed Gahanga Olympic stadium is to be set up in Kicukiro District as the construction activities are yet to start.
He is currently using machines in tilling and leveling the land where he is planning to plant maize in 19A season and has managed to exploit the land using tractors to till it and plant maize and beans.
“I grow maize and beans. Before we began using tractors to till and prepare the land, we would use manual labour. Today, I have embraced mechanization, leasing a tractor requires between Rwf50,000 and Rwf80,000 per one hectare while manual labour costs between Rwf200,000 and Rwf300,000, which is really expensive,” he said.
Uzayisenga benefits from mechanization since he can harvest 4 tonnes of maize per one hectare when using tractors while without tractors output was estimated at around 1.5 tonnes per one hectare and he has managed to support his family and pays school fees for his two brothers.
“I live in Kigali and I am able to pay rent and support my family. I have market for my harvest in Ziniya and Kimironko. On harvesting the produce, I hold on to the produce and wait for the prices to go up before I can sell,” he said. He also employs at least 20 workers for every season.
Youth and young graduates such as Uzayisenga are being supported by the Government in various ways to rejuvenate the sector.
So far, four companies are involved in importing and selling tractors, nine companies and cooperatives are leasing machinery to farmers while five individuals assemble the equipment locally and sell them.
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