Rwanda attains self-sufficiency in production of maize, wheat, soybean seeds cutting off imports

RWANDA – Rwanda’s investment in boosting local production of seeds has begun to pay of as the government has indicated it will not import seeds of maize, wheat and soya, in the coming agricultural season.

This, according to Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources Gerardine Mukeshimana, follows attainment of seed production sufficiency of 100 percent in the current season.

“That is why in the instructions we gave to the farmers we have shown specific prices for these seeds and we will no longer help the farmers import them, whoever wants to will completely cover the cost on their own,” Gerardine said.

In 2018, Rwf2.5 billion (US$2.47m) was invested by the government in the development of wetlands and used for local seed multiplication for maize and other crops to reduce seeds imports.

Locally produced seeds are set to produce a minimum of four tonnes per hectare and the maximum is over eight tonnes per hectare, reports New Times Rwanda.

The Government of Rwanda has been importing about 4,900 metric tonnes of improved seeds comprising 3,500 metric tonnes of Maize, 800 metric tonnes of wheat and 600 metric tonnes of soybean mainly from Kenya and Zambia, at an estimated cost of Rwf6 billion (US$5.93m) every year.

Gerardine indicated that the money that was being invested in these imports, will go to the local seed producers, and researchers, and assured farmers that there will not be any challenge be it in supply and the quality of locally produced seeds.

“When we look at the different seed varieties we have now, from wheat to soya and also potatoes, it is through the efforts of research that we have been doing, and will continue to do so, in order to have more locally made seeds,” she added.

Evariste Tugirinshuti, the president of maize farmers’ federation of Rwanda and an agro-dealer welcomed this initiative, because the imported seeds were expensive and now farmers will be able to access more quality seeds.

 “The price for locally produced maize seeds is between Rwf400 (US$0.40) and Rwf600 (US$0.59) per kilogramme while the price for imported seeds is Rwf1,500 (US$1.48) depending on the variety, which means the imported ones are more expensive, yet they both have the same productivity,” he said.

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“This also comes as a solution, because we had situations where imported seed could fail to germinate, but with these locally made seeds we are confident we will have a good harvest because they have been tested on our soil,” he added.

Tugirinshuti added that this will help agro-dealers in finding markets for their seeds, because they have been investing a lot in making these seeds, and yield more profits in their businesses.

Bank of Kigali digitizes financial services for coffee farmers

Meanwhile, Bank of Kigali Plc has re-launched its IKOFI digital product alongside a partnership with RWACOF, a Rwandan-based coffee exporter working with more than 86,000 farmers to raise their farming methods.

The partnership will see 11,000 telephones distributed to small holder coffee farmers, facilitating them to use IKOFI wallet and boost their financial access through technology.

The financial digitalization access move is in line with the bank’s strategy and overall commitment to digitize agriculture while providing convenient services to farmers in their day-to-day operations.

Unlike other wallets, IKOFI opens up a pathway to the banking ecosystem, as the farmers get access to financial services digitally and in the near future, their credit application requirements will be processed.

Max Veglio, the Managing Director of RWACOF, appreciated BK’s efforts for opening up the doors for small holder coffee farmers to access financial services.

“We have realized, lack of access to technology as a key barrier to our growth as farmers, but BK’s initiative marks an important step in the journey, having accepted to scrap off the transfer charges during payments and ease the loan application requirements,” he observed.

In a bid to support farmers, the Bank has an already existing partnership with Smart Nkunganire System (SNS), through which farmers are enabled to easily pay for agro-inputs through IKOFI.

In the journey to digitise the coffee value chain, Bank of Kigali through Smart Kungahara System (SKS), a digital platform developed by BK Techouse in partnership with NAEB equips its stakeholders with the most indispensable tool to link all stakeholders involved in the value chain in Rwanda, thus enabling proper standardized data reporting.

Bank of Kigali through IKOFI integration with SKS is expected to serve more than 300 coffee washing stations, with a target market size of more than 400,000 coffee farmers, hence driving the use of cashless payment in the coffee sector, ultimately speeding up the financial inclusion journey in coffee value chain.

Currently, 1,767 agro dealers and 263,691 farmers are active IKOFI wallet users benefiting from the service by digitally paying for their agro-inputs through mobile phones, conveniently paying for other services.

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