Paul Kagame ]
By Kelvin Odoobo
Rwanda's agricultural sector continues
to maintain an impressive growth
trend in the first half of 2009
in spite of taking a hard hit from
the current global economic downturn.
The Permanent Secretary of the
Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI)
Ernest Ruzindana said that despite
an 8.12% reduction in export volume
the sector registered growth
In a presentation, Overview
of Achievements and Challenges
in the Agricultural sector,
January - June 2009, during
the Joint Agriculture Sector Review
at Laico Umubano Hotel in Kigali,
Ruzindana said agriculture
registered a 6.6% increase
in food production in Season B of 2009.
Rwanda experiences a short
rainy season from September
to November (Season A) and
a long rainy season from
February to May (season B).
The short dry season runs
from December to January
and the long dry season
from June to mid-September.
However at 2.9%, the reduction
in export earnings was much
smaller than the reduction
in total volume of exports.
Increases in yields stood
at 99% for maize, 43% for wheat,
28% for rice and sweet potatoes.
More importantly was an
11% increase in bean production
which marks a significant
increase in protein supply to the population.
There was a also a significant
growth in milk production and
consumption during the first
half of the year during which
143.15 million litres, 11.2% increase,
contributed to the increase from
about 25 litres per person
per year consumption in 2008
to 29 litres/per person /year in 2009.
This is closer to the FAO
recommendation of 54 litres/person/year.
However the dairy sub-sector still
faces crucial challenges in
increasing milk production in
few collecting centres, low capacity
of milk processing plants,
lack of animal feeds,
artificial insemination services
and weak veterinary services.
The volume of coffee exported
from January to June fell from
4.92 million kilograms in 2008
to 4.27 million kilograms in 2009
while the value of coffee exports
fell further from US$12.05 to
US$9.5 million due to the fall
in coffee prices.
However, despite a fall in volume
of tea expected by 2.5%, earnings
from tea exports increased by
10.6% from US$2.06 million to
US$2.34 million during the same
period mainly due to the increase
of tea prices by 13.6%.
Ruzindana also said that investments
in higher-value products
are paying off.
The Rwanda government through
its policy of adding value
to agricultural products locally
to boost farmers' earnings has
seen the development of
special Rwanda coffee and tea brands.
The Minster of Agriculture
Agnes Kalibata said the proposed
Rwanda Agricultural Board which
will streamline the sector initiatives
and harmonise them with
various government institutions
was pending cabinet approval.
The new Rwanda Agricultural
Board will combine the Rwanda
Agricultural Research Institute,
Rwanda Agricultural Development
Authority and Rwanda Animal
Resources Development Authority.
Sent from Kigali, Rwanda