By The Inspirer staff
Rwanda should look into ways to utilize Methane Gas in Lake Kivu for the production of urea, which is a nitrogen-rich fertiliser considered of great importance to crop productivity, MP Leonard Ndagijimana has recommended the government of Rwanda.
Deputy Ndagijimana, who also served as Head of Study and Teacher at the Ministry of Education in the periods 1988-1992, 1998-2002, and 2006-2009, made the proposal recently while the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources was appearing before the Parliament’s Chamber of Deputies to explain about issues facing the agriculture sector.
He said that the byproduct of methane gas, and nitrogen can be used to make urea domestically so as to foster crop growth in Rwanda, instead of spending huge money on imports of fertilisers.
With the methane gas available in Lake Kivu and nitrogen – a chemical element with symbol N that is found in atmosphere, the country could make use of them to manufacture that type of fertilizer.
“We have opportunity to make urea because we have methane gas and the atmosphere (for the production of nitrogen). Instead of depending on NPK, we have methane gas why can’t its byproduct be used to make urea,” Ndagijimana wondered saying that the proposal could be put to the Ministry of Infrastructure for consideration.
The urea fertilizer, also popularly called forty six zero zero (46-0-0), is a simple or straight (single-element) fertilizer that supplies the major essential element nitrogen in ammonic form (NH4+), according to the agriculture specialised website www.cropsreview.com.
The alternative name 46-0-0 of urea fertilizer stands for its NPK content (actually N, P2O5 and K20 or nitrogen, phosphate and potash, respectively). It means that it contains 46% nitrogen (N), zero phosphorus, and zero potassium. Thus 100 kg of granular urea supplies 46 kg N with the remainder consisting of carriers or fillers.
Methane gas byproduct can be used to generate Urea which can be used to foster crop growth.
Faulting the current fertilizer use by farmers
MP Ndagijimana said that farmers are wrongly applying fertiliser to crops and this is adversely affecting crop productivity, a practice he said should be improved for them to get better yields.
“I think that people are not treating fertiliser seriously. I make this comment because in the last days, I visited Nyamagabe District and we realised that a person grew maize and applied NPK from sowing. Yet, maize crops should first be grown using urea, and use NPK at the weeding stage so that the cereals develop to maturity well,” he said.
“But, it has been observed that they use NPK, even without [organic] manure, which results in poor growth of the maize crop as it is inhibited,” he observed.
He said that agronomists should teach people how to effectively apply appropriate fertilisers on crops.
Rwanda’s fertilizer import bill increased by 11 percent according to the Monetary Policy and Financial Stability Statement issued in February 2019 by the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR). Fertilisers used in Rwanda include NPK, Urea, and DAP.
An estimated Rwf25 billion has been spent on seeds and fertilisers annually, largely on imports, and the government provides about Rwf10 billion subsidy. Farmers cover the remaining part of the cost.
About 33,000 tonnes of fertilisers have been used for crop production in Rwanda annually, while the target was 45,000 tonnes of fertilisers for the financial year 2017/2018, according to statistics from Rwanda Agriculture Board.
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