After years of spending billions of francs on seed imports, Rwanda has reached a target to become a self-sufficient in seeds supply. Speaking to Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, Dr Geraldine Mukeshimana, The Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources said that Rwanda will no longer import Maize, Soybean and Wheat seeds in 2022 A Season.
‘’In this season, we can say that we are now 100% self-sufficient in seeds supply including maize, soybean and wheats. So, we won’t import seeds, that is why in the statement we issued we described Government subsidized seeds, we said we will not subsidize imported seeds.” The Honorable Minister said in the interview.
The 15th National Leadership Retreat resolutions statement issued by office of the Prime Minister stated that Rwanda had envisioned to fast-track domestic production of agricultural seeds to ensure that within the next 3 years starting with 2018, all the required seeds are locally produced and enhance the production of needed fertilizers in the country.
In the fiscal year 2019-2020 there were the generation of the descriptors of eight hybrid varieties in seed production, nicking optimization trials of 10 new maize hybrid varieties to be submitted for official release and maintenance and breeder’s seed production of eleven parent inbred lines.
The dissemination of seven RAB maize hybrid varieties in seed production was conducted through the demonstration plots with 101 maize farmers’ cooperatives and more than 8,000 Farmers’ Promotors.
That year, Rwanda locally produced 1,750 metric tones of maize seeds and 258 metric tones of wheat. At least 290 metric tons of Soybean seeds were produced, well above the annual target. 192 metric tones of bean seeds were produced in 2019/20 against a target of 150 metric tones while 160 metric tones of rice were produced against a target of 150 metric tones.
Expressing their gratitude on locally produced seeds, farmers say that locally produced maize seeds spared loss they used to encounter like failing to pod and others. They say that since they start cultivating home-produced seeds the productivity rose to between two and three times comparing to imported seed yield per hectare.
In journey to end seeds import, MINAGRI/Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board works with Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to ensure seeds are availed to farmers across the country and all arable land is put under production to sustain gains already made.
Fidele Nizeyimana, Associate Program Officer at AGRA said that using locally produced seeds is more profitable to farmers.
“First, a farmer gets seeds on time, second, using hybrid seeds is that we know the parents of the breed and we are sure that the production will be huge,” he said.
Currently, there are four maize seed varieties for mid-low altitudes; RHM104, RHM1402, RHM1407 and RHM1409.
There are also four varieties for high lands; RHMH1520, RHMH1521, RHMH1601 and RHMH1611.
Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr Geraldine Mukeshimana accentuates that Rwanda will not move backwards on the step that was taken.
“When I see where we are today, varieties of cassava, beans, soybean, potatoes and wheats that we have, what it requires is that research activities shall continue working, in the world today, we can’t live longer without investing in research. In my opinion, to make this sustainable we all need to understand that research should be prioritized.” -She emphasized.