By The Inspirer Staff.
Meet Hangiyaremye Enias, a farmer and Irish potato aggregator in Ngororero District. He collects produce from other smallholder farmers in the area and delivers it to Kigali thereby providing market for fresh produce.
He also owns an Irish potato farm, but, his business is affected by poor Irish potato seeds farmers use that do not provide good yield. These concerns are also echoed by many farmers who are still struggling to get access to the improved seeds, according to the just released Access to Seeds Index 2019.
To counter this challenge, Rwanda Agriculture Board is already working around the clock to train staff who will support seed inspectors to enable farmer to access high quality Irish Potato seeds.
In private, – public partnership with Hinga Weze, RAB organised a three-day training of support staff on May 7 – 9, 2019, in Musanze District to build their capacity on quality seed control and certification. The trainees composed of local government agronomists and staff from SPF- Ikigega, and Horizon Sopyrwa.
The training workshop was officially opened by the RAB Deputy Director General Dr Charles Bucagu who called on the trainees to support farmers in order to ensure they access quality seeds.
“Work as professionals to improve quality of seeds. If you want to be a successful seed producer quality is the key.” He continued, “Rwanda is among 8 big countries producers of Irish potato in Africa, and our country will receive the global meeting on Irish potato in August 2019. Irish potato being staple food crop in Rwanda with high demand, much attention should be taken on quality during production process.” He also reminded them that all process needs to go with technology for more success.
This capacity building activity falls in line with the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board’s implementation of the eighth resolution from the 15th National Leadership Retreat: “Fast-track domestic production of agricultural seeds to ensure that within three years (2018-2021), where all the seeds for priority crops required by farmers in Rwanda are produced locally.”
The initiative came as a response to the growing concern about halting reliance on the importation of seeds for key priority crops (maize, potato, soybean, wheat and cassava), which involve having an effective and responsive seed quality control and certification system in the country that is well organized with enough staff to timely handle inspections and certification activities.
The extreme undeniably need for as many trained personnel the country can get, from both public and private domains, to help reinforce the provision of seed inspection and technical support services to seed multipliers, fell perfectly line with HINGA WEZE activities for supporting the Government to develop strong private sector lead seeds system and supporting smallholder farmers to access on high quality seeds.
Salomon Mbarushimana from the SPF-Ikigega, acknowledged the important role all sections play in making Irish potato seed production a success in Rwanda. He mainly emphasized on a “collaboration between all actors” and thanked Hinga Weze and RAB for organizing a such training and allowing SPF IKIGEGA to attend.
HINGA WEZE DCoP, Mrs. Laurence Mukamana, told the participants that the main aim of the training is to train them in seeds inspection and quality control to support RAB inspectors in this intensive work of seed quality control and certification services.
RAB Seeds System Division Manager Mr. Rwebigo Daniel in his remarks, he thanked HINGA WEZE for their valuable support and good collaboration with RAB, and mentioned the government expectations from this capacity building activity.
“We are expecting to see decreases in seeds rejection and reducing numbers of rounds seeds inspectors were doing to visit many field while seeds inspectors number is not enough to cover the whole areas under seeds production.” He reminded the trainees that they have great impact to transform seeds system of Rwanda.
RAB DDG Dr. Bucagu Charles acknowledged the participation of everyone and reminded them that they need to work as professionals to improve quality of seeds: “if you want to be a successful seed producer quality is the key.” He continued, “Rwanda is among 8 big countries producers of Irish potato in Africa, and our country will receive the global meeting on Irish potato in August 2019.
Irish potato being staple food crop in Rwanda with high demand, much attention should be taken on quality during production process.” He also reminded them that all process needs to go with technology for more success.
He acknowledged the good partnership with HINGA WEZE, “We have Hinga Weze as good partners in seeds system development, so we need to use this opportunity efficiently.” He then requested all concerned people to give targeted plan of Irish potato seeds for the upcoming 2020 A season.
According to the RAB’s Ag. Director of seeds unit, Dr. Clement URINZWENIMANA, “the production of genetically pure and quality seed is a formidable task requiring: High technical skills and knowledge Heavy investment.” We could say that this capacity building activity brings 50% to the table of what it takes.
The SPF Ikigega Managing Director, Mr. Salomon Mbarushimana, expressed their happiness of being trained on the capacity of seeds inspection and quality control, and thanked Hinga Weze, RAB, MINAGRI and MINALOC for the important support they always provide to SPF Ikigega.
For the RAB Seeds Systems Division Manager, Mr. Rwebigo Daniel, “all staffs who have completed the course of seeds inspection and quality control should be good ambassadors and build strong collaboration by timely sharing information, intensify farmers’ mobilization to adopt seed quality control practices and especially through positive seed selection in their respective Sectors of operation.”
It is estimated that only 3% of the potato planted area is provisioned by the formal seed system, while 97% of potato area is planted with seed sourced by farmers through informal means” (FAO, 2017).
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