RWANDA - A new project aimed at increasing rice production in Eastern Province has kicked off. The Rwangingo marshland rice improvement project will cover 900 hectares of the swamp, and will help boost rice cultivation in the districts of Gatsibo and Nyagatare, agriculture ministry officials have said.
The 18-month project is estimated to cost Rwf8 billion and is expected to increase output to 50,000 tonnes of rice per season when it is completed later this year.
The project will be implemented under Rural Sector Support Project (RSSP) co-ordinated by agriculture ministry, Dr Geraldine Mukeshimana, the Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, said.
Mukeshimana, who was addressing farmers from the two beneficiary districts last week, said plans were underway to establish 109 water troughs in drought-prone areas of the province to support crop and livestock farming in the area.
The agriculture ministry, through the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), is supporting a programme to grow uphill fodder, and will also train farmers on this technology, according to the minister.
“We are aiming at harvesting at least six tonnes of rice per hectare every season which is a great milestone to the sector and farmers at large,” Mukeshimana said.
Kalisa Eugene, a representative from Rwangingo farmers co-operative, said the scheme will, not only enhance production, but also create employment opportunities in the province.
It is estimated that the project could create up to 1,500 jobs in the neighbouring areas.
Government and stakeholders are working to streamline the rice industry in the country.
Last week, farmers and government agreed on a new initiative to fight illegal rice processing in the country, and formed a team that will ensure processors adhere to standards along the value chain.
The committee is supported by the agriculture and trade and industry ministries. Plans to avail farmers up to 8,000 hectares of land for rice production by next year are also ongoing.
Meanwhile, farmers complained of shortage of water, saying it is affecting livestock production in the area.
January 11, 2016; http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2016-01-11/196011/