The Government of Rwanda will not be importing seeds of maize, wheat and soya, in the coming agricultural season A and will not help the farmers that buy the imported seeds, said the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources Gerardine Mukeshimana.
This, according to the ministry, follows the gains that have been made in local production of the seeds.
“This agricultural season we have seed sufficiency of 100 percent 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,” she said.
In 2018, Rwf2.5 billion 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.
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.
With the above quantities of seed imports, Rwanda has been spending an estimated budget of six billion Rwandan Francs every year to cover the cost of the seeds imported.
Mukeshimana said 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 and Rwf600 per kilogramme while the price for imported seeds is Rwf1,500 depending on the variety, which means the imported ones are more expensive, yet they both have the same productivity,” he said.
“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.
Jean-Nepo Gasana, a local farmer of soya said he has been planting seeds from Kenya, which were expensive to get, but now it will help him reduce the costs of buying seeds.
“The prices of fertilizers have increased, so this will help me as a farmer because I will not spend much money on imported seeds too, which would have been a financial burden,” he added.