RWANDA – Three companies have formed a joint venture to invest US$2.08 million (Rwf1.9 billion) in a project that seeks to increase Rwanda’s maize seeds supply targetting to reduce imports by 40 per cent.

The Agro Processing Industries (API), One Acre Fund (OAF), and Western Seed Company (WSC) launched the project that will produce hybrid maize seeds in Karangazi Sector, Nyagatare District in Eastern Province.

API is a subsidiary of Agro Processing Trust Corporation (APTC), while One-Acre Fund is a social enterprise that aims at increasing income for smallholder farmers.

Western Seed Company is a Kenya-based firm focused on the development and distribution of new technologies in the form of hybrid seed varieties.

The project will ensure Rwandan farmers have increased access to high-performing seeds.

The three partners have invested in the land and labour, a processing plant, an irrigation system, warehousing infrastructure and a distribution network, among other components.

“This partnership has never been about us, it is about delivering a great technology to farmers,” One Acre Fund Country Director, Eric Pohlman, said.

The partners plan to scale production to over 2,000 tonnes per year, with the goal of being able to produce a variety of high-performing seeds suitable for all the different ecological zones of Rwanda.

According to a New Times report, the country recently harvested large chunks of  improved maize seed in which 210 metric tonnes of cobs are currently drying at the processing plant.

In addition, about 400 tonnes of processed and packaged maize are projected for “timely” delivery to farmers across the country for the next season which starts in September.

The Director General of Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), Dr Patrick Karangwa, hailed the partnership while noting that it “shows that the progress of self-sufficiency in domestic seed production is impressive.”

“We are at 70 per cent [of local hybrid seed production], next year we want to reach 100 per cent,” he added.

Karangwa added that production of improved seeds in the country is dominated by small-scale seed multipliers, and the new establishment at Karangazi will significantly boost the quality and quantity of the maize crop production.

It is expected that the project will ensure timely availability of seeds while at the same time reduce the price of seeds produced locally compared to imports.