How Rwanda Plans To Save Farmers From Effects Of #COVID-19

Rwanda has announced a comprehensive economic recovery plan and its implementation starts May up to the end of December in the first phase (2020).

This plan includes two-parts, The first part consists of; Monetary Policy, Fiscal Policy and interventions in specific sectors such as Agriculture, support to Private sector, Infrastructure projects for growth and jobs, Technology and Innovation plus Mining.

The second part is Social Protection Relief and Recovery Plan to #COVID19 (SP-RRP). It aims at fixing the negative effects on the vulnerability of rural and urban households by providing a packaged approach addressing different needs related to the #COVID-19 crisis.

Ever since the country slid into an almost two-month hibernation period under a #COVID-19 lockdown, all sectors of the economy plummeted, causing devastating effects ranging from massive financial loses, business closures and loss of jobs.

As the country reopens back to normal, with some anti #COVID-19 measures still in place until September, government has come up with a plan to help the economy return on its feet.

This recovery plan estimated at a cost of Rwf800 billion aims at guiding the government on required key interventions across different sectors that would provide support to households and boost employment and growth towards recovery.

“As we adopt the recovery plan, we want to address issues of social protection, agriculture. We need to improve productivity, and food security,” said Uzziel Ndagijimana-Minister for Finance and Economic Planning.

How Are farmers Helped?

The country has been experiencing heavy rains that are expected to slow down mid-May and this will lead to transition into the start of a long dry season all through up to almost October.  This means that by now season 2020B is over.

However, before the water in the soils dries up, farmers have an opportunity to plant sweet potatoes and cassava, which are resilient to drought. “The Ministry of Agriculture will provide urea to be used in maize plantations,” according to recovery plan document.

Government also wants farmers to use this period to prepare for season 2020C and says it will provide necessary inputs. Farmers, who are not able to afford seeds and fertilisers, will be supported to access them.

In Season 2020C, Agriculture and Local government ministries will mobilise communities to cultivate all irrigation sites, marshlands and hillsides.

Between July and September- a mostly dry period, the Ministry of Agriculture says it has identified horticulture crops to be considered when valorizing marshland in season C (tomato, onion, eggplant, watermelon, cucumber, lettuce, carrots, French beans etc.). These vegetables will be cultivated on 1,833 ha. There is a need of vegetable seeds equivalent to 17,952 kg.

To valorize these marshlands in season C, the identified area will require 18,330 Kg and 366,600 Kg respectively for organic fertilisers and mineral fertilisers.

Sweet potatoes will be cultivated on 1,000 ha. and needs distribution of 42,000 cuttings, 10,000MT of organic fertiliser and 200MT of mineral fertilisers.

2021 Farming Seasons Also Planned For

The recovery plan has detailed arrangements for the 2021A and 2021B seasons. Government has planned that in these seasons it will increase the availability, access and use of inputs (improved seed, fertilizers, lime and water).

On improved seeds, government has a plan of ensuring availability of sufficient quantities of hybrid maize, wheat and soybean seed – and shall be made affordable.

Availability of fertilizers is an important component in realizing good yields in the 2021A and 2021B seasons.

Government says in its economic recovery plan that it will ensure orders and shipment for fertilizers for the 2021 seasons are made on time.

Rwandan farmers under economic categories (Ubudehe 1&2) will receive farm inputs under social protection programs so as to improve their food security situation.

In this recovery plan, farmers are required to use lime. The government says it will ensure there are no delays in procurement and delivery of lime to farmers in need. Small-Scale irrigation programs will receive support too.

According to government, it is projected that the food reserve should store an equivalent of maize and beans for 10% of the population at 2,500Kcal per person per day.

This shall be achieved by increasing resources for National Strategic Reserves to stock food, by supporting the districts to establish their own district food reserves and mobilising farmers to have community stores as well as storage facilities at the household-level.

Story by: Taarifa Rw