Agriculture and Animal Resources Minister Dr Gerardine Mukeshimana and Rwanda Fertilizer Company (RFC) will help Rwandan smallholder farmers with a comprehensive package that will enable them to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic impact and invest in new fertilizers.
RFC is a newly formed joint venture between the Government of Rwanda and OCP – a fertilizer producer based in Morocco and a world leader in the phosphate sector.
RFC was set up as a new company to initiate its operations by the end of 2020 but, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it launched a crisis action plan before officially opening to help curb the impact of COVID-19 on agriculture.
As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, the emergency relief will provide at least 500 metric tons of DAP fertilizers to smallholder farmers covering more than 5,000 hectares of land for season A 2021.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) and the Rwanda Fertilizer Company (RFC) are also partnering in the development of trials for new fertilizer products , especially for wheat, beans and soybeans, by developing demonstration plots across the country, a step that will see the institution invest $1 million (Rwf1 billion).
This will allow the Rwandan fertilizer market to grow from one that uses standard products to a customized and tailored market, according to ministry announcement.
“Almost $1 million will be invested to set up more than 450 demonstration platforms to build capacity and increase market knowledge. The aim is to introduce farmers and relevant stakeholders to best farming practices for all stages of the harvest, from seed selection to nutrient management, mechanization, and post-harvest handling,” reads part of the release.
Providing fertilizers to farms as part of emergency relief is consistent with ongoing government response COVID-19 aimed at building the resilience of farmers in the country, enabling them to increase productivity and continue producing enough to feed the population, Minister Mukeshimana said.
This is an important contribution to our work in providing farmers with the essential nutrients needed to boost agricultural productivity, thereby guaranteeing sufficient food supply, she noted.
The action plan also targets the production of potatoes, one of the most significant crops in Rwanda.
The project also seeks to explore how Rwandan farmers can improve potato yields through good farming practices and limit post-harvest losses.
This project will generate data that will improve the quality and volume of the farmers’ produce over time , which in turn will increase the selling prices and incomes of potato farmers.
Training on mixing soil-specific and crop-specific fertilizers, officials said, will ultimately allow the farmers to better understand their soil and create fertilizer solutions that are more durable and adapted to their crops.