Category: Aggriculture

Experts call for more research to ensure food security


THE NEW TIMES by Eric KABEERA, 22. August 2013

Photo: Dr. Kalibata (L) and other officials examine bottles of banana juice during the conference in Kigali yesterday. The New Times/John Mbanda

African countries could face food shortages by 2050 due to a rapidly growing population, agricultural experts have warned.

 

“Hunger is widespread in Africa and the problem cannot be addressed unless there is partnership between governments and the private sector. This means there is a need to increase the level of education, ensure access to family planning methods and apply research in the agriculture sector,” [Dr Timothy D. Searchinger.]

 

He was yesterday addressing a meeting of scientists from several continents during a three-day conference on agricultural research and extension in Kigali.

It was organised under the theme; “Confronting challenges of food insecurity and poverty in the era of climate change and variability.”

To avoid food insecurity there is need for more research, education and increase of family planning services, participants said.

The experts called for public-private partnership in population control campaigns and strategies for food security.

Searchinger warned that unless African countries apply various mechanisms like agricultural intensification to double food production, the continent will continue to face food insecurity.

“Africa must primarily produce food for Africans not for export,” he said.

The Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness report released early this year shows that Africa holds almost 50 per cent of the world’s uncultivated land which is suited for growing food crops.

Africa’s harvests is said to routinely yield far less than its potential and, for food crops such as maize the yield gap is as wide as 60 to 80 per cent.

The report further indicates post-harvest losses run 15 to 20 per cent for cereals and are higher for perishable products due to poor storage and other farm infrastructure.

Speaking at the same conference, Dr Agnes Kalibata, the Agriculture minister cited inadequate private investments in agriculture among the challenges that need to be addressed.

She also called for more investments in agricultural technology to help enhance food security.

“What can we do to produce more by using less; it will be done by scientists. The productivity is still low and it’s worrying. However, we need to work closely with other partners, including the private sector, not to leave everything to the government,” [Dr Agnes Kalibata]

She stressed the need to link farmers to markets so as to avoid post-harvest losses.

Positive results 

Dr Gadi Gumisiriza, an expert in plant breeding from Uganda, noted that research and technology has been applied in crop husbandry with positive results and it is thus time to extend it to animal husbandry.

More countries need to invest in domestic animals like cows, goats and sheep and produce quality products for domestic consumption as well as exports, he suggested.

Martin Ngirimana, a farmer from Bugesera District who showcased food crops at the sideline of the conference, also noted that access to market was vital in farming business.

Government allocated Rwf164 billion, worth 10 per cent of the total 2013/2014 Budget, to agricultural sector.

Agriculture Underfunded


In addition to the last article from the UN Services, slightly singing their own praises by reporting approaches to end food insecurity in Africa and extolling their apparently stimulating agricultural aid in Rwanda,  I’d like to share this article with you, which was published at the exact same day…

EAST AFRICAN BUSINESS WEEK

by Dias NYESIGA 22 July 2013

Photo: Prison Fellowship Rwanda

With only five percent of the latest budget being allocated to the country’s leading employment sector – agriculture, experts are saying there is need for the government to increase this money to support rural economic development.

“The government should focus more on regulation and policy environment to encourage the participation of the private sector in rural farm financing,” Patrick Oketa, a finance and agro-business specialist told East African Business Week, Agriculture accounts for over 90% of the labour force and contributes about 36% of the GDP.

About 70% of the country’s export revenues come from mainly coffee and tea. Women dominate farming with 53% involved in working in the fields.

Rwanda’s budget allocated to agriculture rose steadily from 3.3 per cent in 2006 peaking at 6.4 per cent in 2009/10 and has slightly declined to five per cent in the current 2013/14 budget.

However, this is below the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) pledge by countries to allocate 10% of their national budgets to agriculture.

But one of the major setbacks governments face as they work to increase agricultural spending is the dearth of information about which types of agricultural investments contribute the most to development goals.

“In some cases governments may have clear principles on how to prioritize their scarce public resources. But they often lack the requisite information to formulate policies, outlining the principles, and designing strategies,” Sula Nuwamanya, from Action Aid said.

To address this challenge, Oketa said governments must increase research in the sector so that the government take action while selecting priority areas for financing.

Nuwamanya said regardless of government policies, some way has to be found to allocate resources across different agricultural sub-sectors with the fundamental goals of increasing efficiency, maximizing productivity, and reducing poverty.

” As a result, government may end up allocating expenditures to activities that have large value for money, but may be less inclusive in impact,” he said.

The government is also investing RWF 163.2 billion in rural development to transform the agricultural sector into a modern commercial sector, reduce rural poverty and improve the quality of life and economic well being of people living in rural areas.

However there is a view that the government involves more of the private sector to take a lead in investment.

This could generate more revenue for the economy.

“There is need to increase incentives such as tax incentives for the private sector to get involved in agriculture, which is more sustainable,” Dickson Malunda, a senior Research Fellow at Institute of Policy and Research- Rwanda said.

More on ActionAid:

ActionAid has been fighting poverty worldwide for over 30 years and working in more than 40 countries. The charity works within regions such as Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean; it is secular and has no political affiliations. The charity campaigns and lobbies against the root causes of poverty, to try to ensure that poor people are treated fairly by governments, companies and international institutions whose decisions affect these people’s everyday lives and their basic human rights. ActionAid works in partnership with communities on practical projects aiming to improve the opportunities for these communities and provide them with facilities such as wells, water systems, schools and health centres in order to tackle the causes of poverty.…Learn more

Source: allafrica. com, ActionAid

Senior UN Official Spotlights Local Sustainable Solutions for Hunger


UN SERVICES

22 July 2013

Photo: WFP

Visiting Rwanda, the head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) highlighted approaches to end food insecurity in Africa that support local initiatives, long-term development and sustainability.

“Here in Rwanda, WFP is providing the life-saving food assistance that we are known for to tens of thousands of refugees, but we and our partners are also supporting community-based agriculture and livelihoods projects that assist the poorest and most vulnerable Rwandans as they build a brighter future for their families,” said the agency’s Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin, at the end of her three-day visit to the country.

“When speaking with small-scale farmers and rural families, I could see very clearly the difference that rural development initiatives have made in helping people improve their lives.”

Ms. Cousin said the progress made on development in Rwanda illustrates the importance of close and effective partnerships between UN agencies, communities and government in helping in empowering people to lift themselves out of poverty.

“I met one woman farmer who started with nearly nothing, and now has become so successful that she’s been able to build her family a new house, and put her children though school,” said Ms. Cousin, who also met with displaced persons and refugees on both side of the border shared by Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

During her visit, Ms. Cousin also visited the Nkamira refugee transit centre and a successful terracing and watershed management project in Rulindo district, in northern Rwanda. She also visited and spoke with farmers in eastern Rwanda who belong to an agricultural cooperative in Kirehe district through which they are selling their surplus maize and beans to WFP via the Purchase for Progress initiative, known as “P4P”.

P4P aims to use WFP’s purchasing power to help connect smallholder farmers to markets. In Rwanda, the programme has grown from a WFP project into a national initiative, boosting productivity and improving the lives and livelihoods of small-scale farmers.

Since 2011, WFP has purchased 33,000 metric tons of combined food commodities – maize and beans – worth $15.5 million, through a combination of P4P purchases and regular food procurement.

WFP and the Rwandan Government are also exploring ways to link the P4P programme to food-for-education initiatives, providing students with a daily school meal grown in their own communities and turn schools into regular customers for local farmers.

This was Ms. Cousin’s first visit to Rwanda as WFP Executive Director. While in the country, she also met with top Government officials, including Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, and with the heads of UN agencies in Rwanda.

More about the Purchase for Progress (P4P) Project

Connecting farmers to markets

As the world’s largest humanitarian agency, WFP is a major buyer of staple food. In 2012, WFP bought US$1.1 billion worth of food – more than 75 percent of this in developing countries. With the Purchase the Progress (P4P) initiative, WFP is taking this one step further. P4P uses WFP’s purchasing power and its expertise in logistics and food quality to offer smallholder farmers opportunities to access agricultural markets, to become competitive players in those markets and thus to improve their lives.

The five-year pilot initiative links WFP’s demand for staple food in 20 countries with the expertise of a host of partners who support farmers to produce food surpluses and sell them at a fair price. By 2013, at least half a million smallholder farmers will have increased and improved their agricultural production and earnings. By raising farmers’ incomes, P4P turns WFP’s local procurement into a vital tool to address hunger. Learn more

Source: allafrica.com, WFP

Koreans Support Macadamia Farming


The New Times

by Jean-D. NIYITEGEKA, 05.05.2013

 

Photo: rstours.com.au

 

The Korea International Corporation Agency (KOIKA) has urged Rwandans to take up macadamia farming as the trees can contribute to the country’s economy as most Rwandan areas are favorable for the crop.

Namhee Choi, the expert in food processing and volunteer in KOIKA made a call on Friday as students from the Institute of Higher Institution of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry (ISAE), in Kigali Campus were planting the trees.

“Macadamia is very beneficial as it is used in producing different kinds of food,” he said.

Namhee added that according to research conducted in several districts, Kayonza, Nyagatare, Ngoma and Bugesera are best suited for the crop.

“It is clear that the Rwandan climate is favorable for the macadamia tree plantation and can generate income to its growers once it is well planted and well maintained.” reads one of the research findings.

Junghee Park, the KOIKA Public Relations officer said though macadamia trees arrived in Rwanda in 1980, people didn’t find interest in planting it yet it was important for the economy.

ISAE works closely with KOIKA in several domains to improve agriculture, forestry, food processing, and food stocking.

Rwanda Has Moved Beyond Food Security- Interview with Agriculture Minister Dr. Kalibata


Photo: The New Times

The New Times, 17. February 2013

INTERVIEW

To be able to sustain the food production that has for the last few years rendered Rwanda food secure, government introduced a number of policies, some of them have come under scrutiny with suggestions that people were being ordered on how to use their land. The New Times’ Felly Kimenyi interviewed Agriculture Minister

Dr Agnes Kalibata to expound on these claims and other issues concerning the agriculture sector. Below are the excerpts.

The New Times (TNT): You may begin by telling us the status of food security in the country…

AK: Since we started the crop intensification programme to increase food security we have not looked back.

We have met a few challenges here and there along the way, like irregular rains but these were not big enough to threaten our position. As we start a new season from season A into B, I see no major problem.

There were challenges in some areas in the beginning of the previous planting season because of the rains that came and then disappeared in some places but I should say everything is on track now.

TNT: Speaking about problems could you be specific and tell us which regions were affected?

AK: When we started the season rains were not so great, in some areas they came and disappeared along the way while in some areas they did not appear at all…here we can talk about areas like Kayonza and Kerehe districts which had problems getting started and some areas in the Southern Province.

But even with those problems, not all crops get affected, it is crops like maize that need a lot of rain at the beginning but for others like beans were not affected because they have a short growing period. I can actually say we had a good bean harvest-probably not as good as we may have wanted, even with the problems we encountered. We are way beyond food security we are working for excess for market.

We are looking at margins for selling for our farmers to see this as a profitable business.

So you will find that in most districts that I mentioned, the crop that was affected most is maize but beans are there…read whole interview

More Efforts Needed to Meet Water and Sanitation MDG


Experts on water and sanitation have asked African governments to get more committed on issues of water if the continent is to meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015.

Minister Stanislas Kamanzi (R) greets the Secretary General, African Water Association, Sylvain Usher, as Elphas Were, from Kenya, looks on at the Young Water Professionals forum yesterday. The New Times/ John Mbanda

The call was made at the start of the second East African Young Water Professionals forum that kicked off in Kigali yesterday. According to water professionals, forecasts for the water situation in Africa are still quite distasteful. The conference has brought together participants from 20 African countries across the globe.

Experts say many African nations will fail to achieve the Millennium Development Goal’s target to reduce by half the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015, and that many more will miss the sanitation target.

According to Nelson Gomonda from Action Aid, Africa loses five per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to poor coverage of water and sanitation, two per cent to power outages, between five to twenty five to droughts and floods in affected countries, and a further five per cent to the future impact of climate change.

“In Africa where young people are over 50 percent of the population, only seven per cent of hydropower has been developed.

Africa’s agricultural water management is woefully deficient, with a food import bill of over US$17 billion,” Gomonda noted.

Stanislas Kamanzi, the Minister of Natural Resources, while officiating at the opening of the forum, noted that there is need to forge strong political will, supported at all levels of decentralisation.

“Translating national policies and strategies into results on the ground is critical to improving access. However, these gains are only possible at the national level if the political leadership actively supports and drives progress towards the targets,” Kamanzi explained

He added that in Rwanda, this support has come from the very top. The President identified sanitation as a key approach to reducing poverty under national poverty reduction strategies and other policies.

Kamanzi said the meeting is an opportunity to discuss various aspects of water including integrated water resource management, innovations in appropriate technology, Water governance and financing, youth empowerment and gender, climate change, sanitation and hygiene.

“Water scarcity is one of the leading problems affecting more than 1.1 billion people globally. The struggle for access to clean drinking water in Africa contributes daily to the stalling and reversal of human progress on the continent,” said one of the participants.

The Young Water Professionals is a forum comprised of water professionals and students below the age of 35 and the main focus of the YWP is to engage the youth in the water sector to prepare them to become the future leaders of the water sector.

The theme of the three-day conference is focusing on “Water for the future: A contribution of the Youth”. It brings together the East African young water professionals, senior water professionals and other various stakeholders to support the continuous development of a workforce adequate in size, capable in skills and strong in leadership to make a valuable contribution in addressing the issue of water for the present and the future.

 

Source: EVALINE NAMUWAYA, 11 DECEMBER 2012, The New Times

Local Investors Eye South African Market


Rwanda is keen to strengthen its presence in the South African market in a bid to boost her agricultural exports. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Private Sector Federation (PSF), Hannington Namara, said that South Africa, which has a population of some 50.6 million people, provides a good market for organic products from Rwanda.

Photo: Rwanda Development Gateway

 

Namara made the remarks during a meeting between South African investors and Rwandan business community in Kigali last week.

He said that PSF-the umbrella arm of the private sector in Rwanda- seeks to facilitate local traders with information and assistance about the South African market through improved trade relations between the two countries.

“The first advantage of these relations is (to) create trade information and help our business people have a better way to do business in South Africa,” he noted.

Rwanda is keen boost her exports through increased value of products and services as well as market diversification to offset the trade deficit.

“Whether we can realise our products to a certain standard in form of quality and packaging to suit their requirement is a challenge we have to take on as Rwandans.”

Meanwhile Rwanda’s imports from South Africa reached 73.6 billion Rands in August this year, mainly driven by increased shipments of machinery, foodstuffs, equipment, chemicals, petroleum products and scientific instruments.

Namara is optimistic that with South Africa’s expertise and technological advancement, the country will be able to further push its service sector to offset costs incurred by the private sector.

“The South African experience provides a good example for the Rwandan service sector to learn from, and what is important is that what we are going to benefit from is generally the expertise,” he added.

“It is not worthy for us to sit back in the services sector and say we can bring out our own yet we can borrow from somewhere.

South Africa’s High Commissioner to Rwanda, George N. Twala, said that trade relations will open up investment opportunities between the two countries.

“At government level, we have done our job; the challenge is for both our people to take the struggle forward,” he pointed out.

Twala said that the two governments will ensure that all barriers to trade are removed, calling on the private sector to identify barriers that would hamper trade.

“As government, we will ensure that we have removed all the obstacles, so it is private sector to tell us that this is an obstacle and remove it,” Twala noted.

“For us to thrive as people, its imperative that we should remove all perceptions that are seen to hamper trade”.

A local trader based in South Africa, Albert Gatare says that Rwanda offers a good business environment for the local business community.

 

Source: DIAS NYESIGA, 30 OCTOBER 2012, The New Times, allAfrica.com

Agriculture Minister Clarifies Use of Chemical Fertilizers


The Minister of Agriculture has stated that chemical fertilizers pose no threat to the environment but rather enhance food productivity.

Image by: Olivier Asselin/ FAO

Dr. Agnes Kalibata says a recent warning by the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (Rema), that use of chemical fertilisers was counterproductive in the long-term, was uncalled for.

Rema warned this month that increased use of chemical fertilisers may pose a major environmental hazard in the long-run.

But Kalibata said chemical fertilizers should instead be regularly used and promoted because they are not hazardous to the environment and help increase production.

“Using chemical fertilizers is a great investment to increase agricultural production….we are not adding anything new to our soil composition, we are not degrading the environment and we are not harming people’s lives,”

she told journalists.

She said use of chemical fertilizers in Rwanda remains low, adding that its use is essential if the country is to realise its targeted production levels.

The minister said that in some countries, especially developed economies, farmers use 100 kilogrammes per hectare, while farmers in Rwanda use below 30kg per hectare.

Recently Rema warned that long-term use of chemical fertilizers will bring about irreversible effects to the soil composition.

According to the environmental watchdog, there is need to promote and invest more in organic agriculture so as to reduce the reliance on chemical fertilizers.

Nevertheless, Kalibata says the priority should be the use of chemical fertilisers to increase production to meet demand. In a new report, the World Bank has warned that international food demand will increasingly outpace supply in the future.

The government imports over 18,000 metric tones of fertilizers each year, and plans to let the private sector deal with chemical fertilizers importation and distribution by 2016.

Kalibata says organic farming requires a lot of work and that it is suitable for subsistence farming while using chemical fertilizers would increase agricultural produce to satisfy a large population and tackle significantly food shortages.

She encouraged farming cooperatives to use chemical fertilizers.

“Some farmers are reluctant to use chemical fertilizers under the pretext that they are expensive,” she said, encouraging them to take fertilisers as a worthwhile investment.

The agriculture minister said that reluctance to apply chemical fertilizers is serious in the Eastern Province while the Southern Province is more forthcoming.

Using fertilizers is one of the main priorities under the Crop Intensification Programme, which was launched in 2007 to help increase food security and boost agri-business.

However, Rema Director General Dr Rose Mukankomeje insists their warning is an environmental perspective on the use of chemical fertilizers.

In an email to The New Times on Friday, she said it is mandatory to think about the negative impact of chemical fertilizers on the soils, thus knowing which fertilizer is most suitable to the type of soil.

“For the case of Rwanda, although we are not among top users of chemical fertilizers, the hilly terrain, which in most cases is characterised by a thin layer of arable soil, exacerbates high erosion rate,

she said.

Rema says that chemical fertilizers should be combined with and gradually replaced by organic fertilisers which contain organic matters, more absorbed by the soil, environmental friendly and affordable, less expensive taking into account the benefits of government initiatives like one cow per family.

The cattle-stocking programme is partly to boost farming through provision of fertilizers from the animals.

Chemical fertilizers are any inorganic material of wholly or partially synthetic origin that are added to the soil to sustain plant growth, while organic fertilizers are substances that are derived from the remains or by products of organisms which contain the essential nutrients for plant growth.

Good to know:

On 14 September, 2012 Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), was awarded by the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) for its outstanding contribution to the protection of the ozone layer.

The award was handed over to the Deputy Director General of REMA, Eng. Collette RUHAMYA who represented Rwanda in the 14th Ordinary Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment in ARUSHA [… read more]

Source: THÉOGÈNE ISHIMWE, 29 OCTOBER 2012, The New Times, allAfrica.com