Rwanda is set save the amount of money it spends on importing fertilisers with government saying the new fertiliser making plant will be operational by the end of this year.
The plant, which is being constructed in Bugesera District at a cost of $38 million (about Rwf33 billion), will have the capacity to blend 100,000 tonnes of fertilisers.
With Rwanda’s annual demand for fertilisers at 53,000 tonnes, according to Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), once the factory begins production, Rwanda will have a surplus of fertilisers, potentially opening up a new avenue for export diversification.
The project is a joint venture involving Morocco’s OCP Group – one of the leading exporters of phosphate fertilisers in the world, the Government of Rwanda and a local firm—Agro Processing Trust Corporation (APTC).
The factory is part of the Caravan – a mobile soil-testing laboratory project expected to improve soil fertility management and raise farm productivity – which was launched last month.
The Caravan consists of a set of mobile equipment with modern soil testing technologies intended to analyse soil samples in order to produce a soil fertility map in order to match fertiliser application with crop needs based on different types of soil.
Sacks of fertiliser stored in a warehouse in Kayonza District, Eastern Province. / Emmanuel Ntirenganya
Charles Bucagu, Deputy Director General of Agriculture Research and Technology Transfer at RAB told The New Times that the fertilisers that will be produced include urea, Diammonium Phosphate
(DAP) and NPK—three-component fertiliser providing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Jean Claude Musabyimana, Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Agriculture, told parliament last week that the study to set up the factory was completed.
“The funds are available. It is a matter of time such that in the next year, we hope we will use fertiliser blends made in Rwanda based on soil test results,” he said.
The fertiliser blending will be based on the type of soil and the nutrient needs of each crop to be grown in a particular region, Bucagu indicated.
“For instance, there will be formulation of the fertiliser adapted to the northern part of the country which is near volcanoes and has a particular type of land, which is different from that in northern part of the country,” he said.
“This project aims to bring fertilisers close to farmers. There will no longer be importation of fertilisers.”
The factory is also expected to reduce the price that farmers pay for fertilisers, which is needed to drive the growth of agriculture—one of the most important sectors of the Rwandan economy.
Jean-Damascene Ntawushobora, an Irish potato farmer from Nyabihu District, told The New Times that farmers have been struggling with applying fertiliser suitable to the type of soil.
“Fertilisers used in marshland was the same used on upland. We were applying fertilisers without certainty; we did not know the nutrient needs for our soil and appropriate fertilisers to meet such needs. That issue was unfavourably affecting farm output,” he said, expressing optimism that the new factory will address the problem.