By Elias Hakizimana.
While improved seeds have potential of higher yields, disease and pest resistance, climate change adaptation, improved nutrition, the African Seed Access Index has revealed that there are still challenges affecting seed industry in Rwanda.
The index by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa seeks to promote the establishment and maintenance of enabling environments for competitive seed systems serving African farmers.
The study which measures the top four grain and legume crops; maize, bean, wheat, soya bean was conducted in 21 African countries and was completed earlier this year in Rwanda.
During the research findings presentation, the agricultural researcher, Gervais Ngerero Nkuriza explained that there are 15 active seed companies for the 4 crops in Rwanda but Seed producers’ satisfaction with agro-dealer network is at 51%.
Satisfaction with availability of basic maize seeds is at 73 per cent, 69 per cent with bean seeds, 70 per cent with wheat and 78 per cent with soya while satisfaction with regards to efforts to stamp out fake seeds is at 72 per cent.
Key challenges in seed industry include Insufficient post-harvest equipment for seed producers (driers, storage) , Climate change variability which negatively affects the quality of seeds , Low engagement of private sector into hybrid seed production , Land availability to meet seed production requirements (isolation for hybrid) and delay of payment of suppliers invoices.
According to Rwanda Agricultural Board, Under Crop Intensification Programme (CIP), the use of improved seeds has risen from 3% in 2006 to 12.5% in 2018 in small scale farms and 53.1% for large scale farmers.
Despite the steady growth Rwanda has registered in agricultural production, the yield gap is still high with maize at 60.7%, wheat at 46% rice at 36.5%, bean at 71.7% and Irish potato at 76.4%.
Bridging the current yield gap, experts say encompasses many interventions including Promotion of the use of organic and inorganic fertilizers, the use of improved seeds and the provision of effective advisory services.
Promotion of Improved seeds its self involves breeding new suitable and high yielding varieties, Strengthening local seed production and supply and Enhancing quality control.
There is need of Fostering synergies between research and private sector to ensure a regular supply of suitable high yielding varieties to be injected in the seed production stream, effective coordination between different seed stakeholders and increase of the seed effective demand.
Efforts must strengthen research for variety development and release to ensure regular supply of high yielding varieties and establish a seed production system led by private sector through an exit plan of public sector from seed production activities.
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