Rwanda launches US$1.8m soil fertility program funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

RWANDA – In a bid to boost productivity of Rwanda’s agricultural sector, the Rwanda Soil Information Service (RwaSIS), has launched a survey on soil fertility, to inform the type or quantity of fertilizer or lime to be applied in a particular field.

The project which will cost Rwf1.9 billion (US$1.8m), is carried out in collaboration with Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB), and funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

It aims to focus on six selected crops i.e., maize, beans, wheat, cassava, rice, and Irish potatoes grown in 27 districts.

Available data indicates that due to soil erosion and other related disasters, approximately 50% of Rwanda soils are acidic and infertile which requires an appropriate rate of fertilizers and other inputs.

According to Dr. Jules Rutebuka, the project coordinator, this initiative will largely address the productivity gaps by developing site and crop-specific recommendations in order to assist farmers benefit in the efficient use of agricultural inputs, while enhancing sustainable land management.

“This project was designed based on people’s demands including investors and ordinary farmers, to help them identify and understand the exact rates of inputs to be applied in their lands at any specific area,” Rutebuka said.

Shedding light into the current scenario facing the farmers, John Kayumba, a researcher with RAB stated that currently there is a ‘blanket’ fertilizer application yet the soils are from different agro-ecological zones which affects the harvest.

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“These fertilizer recommendations will be based on soil types fertility status, and crop response to come up with different fertilizer/lime formulas for each crop,” he said.

The initiative builds on government’s efforts striving for agriculture transformation through the PST 4 strategic plan.

Still in the East African nation, Rokosan Limited, Slovakian producer of organic and organo-mineral fertilizers, commenced construction of a new production facility in Rwanda worth €20m (US$23.6m).

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The new facility is expected to have an annual production capacity of 20 million litres of organic fertilizer.

Adam Szöke, Export Manager at Rokosan Limited, has indicated that the planned investment will undertake establishment of a laboratory to conduct soil and crop analysis, in a bid to determine the suitable fertilizers for use.

With construction works already kick-started, the new unit is expected to be operational by the second quarter of 2022.

Meanwhile, the investment will boost fertilizer uptake in the East African country, which currently standing at 46 Kilograms per hectare.

The government of Rwanda targets to increase fertilizers use to 75 Kilogrammes per hectare by 2024.

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