Key projects in agriculture face funding shortage | New times

the government allocated RWF 137.5 billion to the agricultural sector in FY2021/22, which represents 3.6 percent of the total proposed budget of RWF 3.807 billion for the year.

Agricultural spending, which comes as the economy grapples with its worst slowdown since 1994, has been deemed insufficient by industry policymakers, who have argued for increased spending to support productivity.

It also does not meet the threshold of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program, which recommends that each African country devote at least 10% of its national budget to agriculture.

According to officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, limited funding to the sector risks undermining efforts to implement the Fourth Strategic Plan for Agricultural Transformation.

The strategic plan, which runs from 2018 to 2024, requires a minimum annual investment of 450 billion Rwandan francs to accelerate the growth of the sector and halve the country’s poverty rate – currently estimated at 38.2%.

Rwanda, which generated $ 419.1 million in agricultural exports in 2019/2020, plans $ 1 billion by 2024, and with limited funding, officials have warned the target could be out of reach .

If funding is not increased, here are the six services that will be affected.

Extension of agricultural insurance

This activity aims to provide subsidies to farmers for crop insurance on 7,420 hectares and livestock insurance coverage for 81,982 farm animals including 9,000 cows; 3,000 pigs and 68,982 chickens.

However, if the allocated budget of Rwf 268.5 million is not increased, this target will not be achieved as it needs Rwf 814 million. These figures imply that she received less than a third of the required funding.

The project aims to protect farmers against losses caused by disease and accidents.

It also aims to reduce agricultural risk and free up financial institutions that previously had access to credit to farmers.

Gerardine Mukeshimana, Minister of Agriculture, said this year the sector has RWF 1 billion in commercial bank loans thanks to the insurance scheme.

“If no increase is made to the allocated funds, the insurance coverage for livestock and crops will be lower and the situation will also lead to a decrease in loans and investments in agriculture,” Mukeshimana told lawmakers. last week during the budget hearing with the Chamber of Deputies Committee on the national budget and heritage.

Crop intensification program

Interventions under the Crop Intensification Program (CIP) aim to increase the productivity of the main selected crops, including maize, beans, rice, wheat, cassava and Irish potatoes.

In 2021/2022, the ministry’s plan was to distribute 5,294 tonnes of subsidized quality seeds, 50,924 tonnes of fertilizer and 15,211 tonnes of lime to farmers.

Other interventions foreseen in the project include support for the multiplication of quality seeds at the national level, as well as soil tests on 5000 hectares in accordance with the initiative to use appropriate fertilizers that meet the nutrient needs for different types of soils in the country.

It also seeks to strengthen agricultural extension services to help farmers improve their agricultural yields.

The total funding requirement for this activity is RWF 35.6 billion, but she received RWF 19.9 billion, which means she got just over half of the funding she needed. This amount includes 14 billion Rwf for the use of fertilizers alone, against 23.1 billion Rwf which was needed.

With that, the average fertilizer use would reach 60 kilograms per hectare next year, up from around 45 kilograms per hectare in 2020, while 67 percent of farmers would use quality seeds.

With very limited funding, the ministry said the goal of increasing agricultural productivity by 8% for each crop selected will not be possible and that the impact of Covid-19 will continue to weaken the country’s economy by due to low agricultural production.

Patrick Karangwa, director general of the Rwandan Council of Agriculture (RAB), said seeds and fertilizers are the main drivers of agricultural productivity, calling for efforts to close the budget gap they face.

Aquaculture and Fisheries

This activity was allocated to around Rwf 1 billion, but it needed Rwf 5.7 billion.

Its goal was to produce 40 million fry (young fish that grew to about the size of a finger) and store 14 million fry in lakes and [fish] ponds.

This activity, Mukeshimana said, could help the country get rid of its dependence on imported fish.

“If we are able to plant fry in different ponds among communities, and in valley dams used for rice irrigation, it can help increase our fish production,” she said.

“This can allow us to be self-sufficient in terms of fishery products and to obtain a surplus for the market, because we have the potential to [fish] exports especially to neighboring countries, ”she said.

Rwanda’s annual fish production is expected to more than triple, from 31,460 tonnes in 2017/2018 to 112,000 tonnes in 2023/2024, under PSTA4.

Coffee production

Claude Bizimana, director general of the National Council for the Development of Agricultural Exports (NAEB), said the NAEB requested 4.6 billion francs for coffee production in the next fiscal year, but that only 220 million francs, or about 4.7 percent, were provided.

This small funding, the NAEB said, will be used for “very urgent activities” such as the purchase of pesticides / fungicides and snares to control diseases and pests that attack coffee.

The funding the institution needed included 2.8 billion Rwf to subsidize 5,000 tonnes of fertilizer to increase coffee productivity. With the little funding allocated, Bizimana said, it will not be possible to carry out such an activity.

Bizimana indicated that this [fertiliser application] would help the country achieve the expected production of 27,000 tonnes of coffee and generate 78 billion rww in coffee export earnings.

He explained that it was estimated that the lack of availability of fertilizers will likely reduce the projected coffee production by 13 percent for next year and 30 percent for the following year, as coffee trees have not. received the necessary nutrients.

“This is a major concern because it implies that we could not get the income [we were expecting from coffee exports],” he said.

MP Christine Bakundufite said there are main activities that should not be overlooked in the agricultural sector, citing fertilizers, seedlings and irrigation, indicating that agriculture would be a neglected sector if they are not available.

“Given the funding allocated to the NAEB, it would not be able to fulfill its responsibilities including coffee production and exports in the years to come,” she said, citing the old coffee trees. which should be replaced as they are less productive.

Horticultural development

The NAEB had requested more than 1.7 billion Rwandan francs to support the development of horticulture. The money would be spent on interventions such as pesticides / fungicides with the aim of increasing the quality and quantity of horticultural products, as well as finding new export markets for the products and expanding existing ones. .

However, the institution only received Rwf 128 million for these activities.

This lack of funding, said the NAEB, will hamper the implementation of planned activities, including the lack of means to obtain the avocado and macadamia plants needed to expand the plantations for these two crops, as well as the inability to generate 55 million dollars (around 55 billion francs) in horticulture. export income.

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