By Elias Hakizimana.
A modern Agriculture input warehouse with the capacity to store 1500 tonnes was inaugurated last week in Kayonza District, Mukarange Sector to help farmers get seeds and fertilisers close to them, and, on time.
The facility was launched by YARA, an international agro-input firm that produces and sells fertilisers locally in partnership with Hinga Weze — a USAID’s Feed the Future Project.
Hinga Weze has contract with USAID and the US Embassy to Rwanda to help farmers increase agricultural productivity, adapt to climate change and have enough water for crops thought solar powered irrigation and terrace.
YARA is a major partner of Hinga Weze in ten districts where they reach out to farmers to train them on good agricultural practices aiming at increasing farm productivity.
Farmers say that this warehouse will help them to address the issue of delays they have been facing farming as they lacked agro-inputs on time when the season starts.
Emmnanuel Havugimana, a maize farmer from Mukarange Sector says he expects to increase his agriculture productivity from the 6 tonne-yield he got on three hectares of land during the last season.
“Last season, I harvested six tonnes from three hectares and I was using manure as fertiliser. These new (chemical) fertilisers will help me increase production and I expect to get quite double the produce through applying such fertilisers,” says Havugimana.
Many farmers, Havugimana expressed, lost maize produce in the last season and have feared to participate to carry on farming activities in the current season.
Another challenge they have is that they sell a kilogramme of maize at Rwf 100 while they pay Rwf 540 to buy a kilogramme of seeds.
“Rwf100 a kilogramme is not enough when we consider our investment. Seeds are expensive. We wish to sell it at Rwf250,” Havugimana observed.
Egide Gatari, the Agricultural Subsidies Programne Manager at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) said that apart from the current fertilizers which are NPK 17 -1-7 17, DAP and Urea, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) has considered the soil revolution and partnered with YARA to find new fertilizers with the capacity to increase the produce and cope with the issue facing the soil.
He said that YARA has new technology in producing the three varieties of fertilizers: Macro, Micro, and Blends that combines seven crop nutrients.
Gatari responded to the issue of cost of seeds saying that they are the hybrids that can cost even over Rwf2000 depending on the crop variety.
He comforted farmers that they get benefits from their yields on hectare as for example one kilogramme of seeds can give 300 kg of yield in returns.
When comparing investment and the price at which the farmer gets upon sale of their produce, Gatari said there is some benefit, explaining that on average, 25 kilogrammes of maize seeds are grown on a hectare and can give out 8 to 10 tonnes of yield.
“We have chance to harvest 8tonnes in Rwanda on one hectare when a crop was well nurtured and taken care of, some even get 9 or 10 tonnes,” Gatari noted.
He noted that farmers could not sell a kilogramme of maize at less than Rwf160 last season, pointing out that the price went down due to middlemen involvement in maize trade.
He encourages farmers to work in cooperatives so that they get buyers and eliminate the middlemen influence.
“We have many buyers including MINAGRI, Prisons, schools, etc,” Gatari said.
Since 2015/2016, the government of Rwanda subsidized agro-inputs to be led by the private sector and mobilized more investors to run their projects.
The government contributed Rwf9.6billion subsidies during the fiscal year 2018/2019 to help farmers access the cost of agriculture inputs.
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