Agriculture is the backbone of Rwanda’s economy, accounting for 39% of gross domestic product (GDP), 80% of employment, 63% of foreign exchange earnings, and 90% of the country’s food needs. Rwanda is expected to be broadly self-sufficient in food production by 2017, but a significant portion of its population is vulnerable to food security shocks. Therefore, agricultural sector growth is crucial for Rwanda’s economic growth and poverty reduction.
Rwanda faces significant challenges to realize this growth. Farming activities are done manually, which make it difficult to meet agricultural season in various agricultural domains in Rwanda. Farmers are grouped in Farmers Organizations where farmers are supposed to have equal opportunities in their farming activities. In addition, it is always difficult to meet the cost of production which is still high; the yield per Ha also is low. In AAR Intervention zone, the average yield per Ha is 4-5 Tons. This is due to the fact that the farmer is performing the field activities manually where some agricultural good practices standards are not met. As an example, It is recommended to transplant rice at 20-25 cm distances. Therefore, if all rice farming practices are done correctly, the yield would be about 8-10 Tons per Ha. (ICAR-National Rice Research Institute-Cuttack, 2017). In some cases you will find farmers with their manual farming activities where they are respecting 9-15 cm, they transplant more than 5-8 seeds while SRI (Systeme de Riziculture Intensif) advise 1-3 seeds. This challenge can be removed by using machines-where all parameters are programmed. Following Photos explains traditional farming means used in COORIKI
Harvesting and threshing manually is also a challenge; many farmers are beating grains by the use of dried wooden sticks on sheeting and nets while available RDPs are also insufficient at FOs Level. These practices are detrimental to the quality of grain and increase the loss. It was found out that in many rice mills, first quality grade is mixed with second quality grade as it is difficult to find first quality grade because the processed paddy grains are broken in more than 2 pieces as confirmed by Gafunzo Rice Mill Manager (Ruhango 2018). Equally, tasks of removing stones in many rice mills are challenge. The Manager confirmed that Rice farmers often mix soil with grains. This is due to the fact that RDPs are not sufficient and not well maintained and farmers prefer to use their home drying facilities where they use their traditional drying facilities which is putting grain on the non paved soil ground. Stones are moved into grains at Rice mills at 75 percent “the manager said”. Rice export in Rwanda is also a challenge because of Non availability-Insufficient of quality and quantities of First quality grade. Modern Combined Paddy Harvester Machine can support in this issue. Ploughing with hands also delay farming activities, Mechanization in paddy fields will play a big role in agricultural sector growth, for Rwanda’s economic growth and poverty reduction. This will support in increase in yield per Ha, improve quality and promote exports.
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC AGRICULTURE CHALLENGE IN RWANDA
Traditional farming is observed in all regions of Districts of Rwanda. Poor production in various crops are remarkable as a result, agriculture exports are still limited due to the poor quality and quantity of agriculture production. Poor people (Women and children including old men etc.) more than 80% of total population perform heavy and expensive farming activities on traditional based farming approaches which always push them to remain in range of poverty and hunger because of poor agriculture techniques.Agro Action Rwanda proposes a ten years project Community Based Integrated Resource Utilization Project-CBIRUP with the following overall objective with three (3) Intermediate results(IRs).
1. Overall Objective
The Agro Action Rwanda-AAR (Development for All) overall Objective is: Sustainably achieve Development for all through innovative and participatory approach. The Rwanda Agricultural Sector Growth policy is not differing from AAR Strategic and overall objective. This will be accomplished by three Intermediate Results (IRs): (1) agriculture productivity sustainably increased; (2) farmer’s market access improved; and (3) Mechanization has been achieved with Gender and Youth considerations, women’s empowerment, and environment resilience, as cross-cutting themes. AAR is expected to (i) increase agricultural productivity and income, 7-10 Tons /Ha for 250,000 smallholder farming households; (ii) reducing by 98 percent the number of children 6-15 and old women 65-80 years of age doing farming activities manually, iv) Promoting exports and made in Rwanda products.
2. Proposed Mechanization Systems Approach (MSA)
Mechanization is a multi-faceted innovative effort to improve quality production and production increase in VMSCs zones. Given the agro- ecological diversity of the target area, the ambitious scale of results expected cannot practically be achieved by not only putting machines for promoting individual crop, but also , AAR proposes a mechanization systems approach (MSA) to implementation, with the following elements:
• First, we assert that a reliable, efficient and Innovative Village mechanization Service system (VMSS) is essential to increase agricultural productivity, quality, considering environmental protection, and meeting International Standards. Therefore, we propose improving the Mechanization Service System (MSS) at FOs level and avail maintenance facilities and increase capacities to the owner.
• Second, we will build upon and strengthen the existing Mechanization service system (MSS) to deliver agricultural, food quality, quantity and safety, and demonstrate the application of new technologies and approaches. We will emphasize increasing total land productivity (TLP) as opposed to individual crop yields and will support in Household (Hh) Budget Survey and Planning (BSP) for the purpose of Production Cost Control (PCC). We will support in building and improving Cooperative Information Management System (COIMS) to facilitate easy PCC, Cooperative Financial management and Reporting (CFMR). We will link FOs with Private Investors and Banks (PIB) for the purpose of Agricultural Financial Capacities Access (AFCA). We will support in procedural manuals (PMs) and Business plans elaboration (BPE) by the use of existing Business Development Services (BDS). We will conduct seasonal agricultural Survey (SAS) to monitor and evaluate (M&E) the impact on proposed VMSS in place.
• Third, we will incorporate Capacity building approaches as a fundamental
component of agricultural extension, using the existing system to deliver trainings and coaching facilities. We will negotiate and sign AAR Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with each target district to ensure that it coordinates with ongoing efforts, and complements district plans and other development activities. We will incorporate gender and women’s empowerment into every aspect of implementation, constantly ensuring whether they are properly integrated.
3. Project Target and Strategy
The ambitious AAR target is for at least 250,000 farmers to increase their agricultural productivity and incomes through mechanization. The AAR approach to achieve this objective uses a technical innovation system (TIS) to strengthen sustainable management of the VMSCs; and an organizational innovation system (OIS) to enable effective concerted action between different categories of stakeholders. These combined, provide for collective management of VMSCs within each watershed, and promote sustainable production. The AAR agricultural productivity approach emphasizes capacity building and technology transfer, soil fertility restoration, Maintenance on infrastructures, and institutional strengthening and coordination. Specifically, we will:
• Use the proven Twigire Muhinzi (Self Help Farmers) system to disseminate information and train farmers on Good Mechanization Agricultural Practices (GMAPs). We will support the Farmer field School – FFS approach as the most effective means to achieve Diversification-fueled Agricultural Intensification (DFAI), promoting the production of quality, quantity and Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) in Rwanda.
• Promote the integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) approach to fertility restoration, incorporating it into the extension system. ISFM is a set of soil fertility management practices aimed at increasing land productivity.
• Training and Coaching 150000 Households farmers to use RiceXpert and other application systems on Mobile phone to manage and maintain the existing agricultural infrastructures, modern farming approaches.
• Introduce district Machine Operator Forum (DMOF) to involve Farmer Promoters (FPs), linked with Farmers Organizations(FOs-Cooperatives,legally registered as business organizations and Water Users Organizations as charity Organizations to facilitate Water access and management in routine farming activities), Farmer Mechanization School facilitators (FMSFs), and Socio-Economic Development Officers (SEDOs) in managing and supervising all Mechanization interventions, enhancing the existing village Mechanization service centers for the purpose of extension.
• Introduce Mechanization Local and International Investors Forum (MLIL) at District and National Levels for the Purpose of Agricultural financial capacity assess (AFCA), knowledge and experience transfer referring to the Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture in Rwanda (SPTA) as an Agricultural Policy of the GoR.
• We will collaborate with Rwanda National Research Institutions (RNRIs) especially RAB, RBS, MINAGRI, RDB, RRA to support in Made in Rwanda promotion by manufacturing and acquiring various brands machines matching International Standards and Quality System Regulation (QSR).