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Tuesday, 1 July 2014

New strategy to promote irrigation, mechanization

The Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with districts in the Eastern Province has designed a strategy aimed at increasing agricultural production in the region.

The strategy aims at transforming the rural environment through agro-based industrialization, mechanization, irrigation, and full participation of all stakeholders.

During a one-day consultative meeting that brought together the governor, district mayors, agriculture as well as veterinary officers yesterday, the Director General of Rab, Dr. Jacque Mbonigaba, said the government’s agricultural modernization strategy hinges on increased irrigation, mechanization, and value addition to crop production as well as increased support to the private sector.

He said the government was determined to maximize crop production, adding that Eastern Province was the food basket of the country.

“The role of government in the new strategy will include investing in basic infrastructure by concentrating on areas with high agricultural potential to make them attractive to private investors,” he said.

He urged Eastern Province leaders and experts to double their efforts to increase productivity, noting that the country relied much on the province.

“Eastern Province produces between 70 and 80 per cent of the total national volumes of cereals. It constitutes 80 per cent of marshland cover, supplies 72 per cent of the country’s milk and beef, 80 per cent of banana, cassava; almost all tomato production, among others,” Mbonigaba said.

He challenged local leaders to capitalize on the nature of the land in their respective districts, to maximize production and productivity.

“The province has the largest arable land in the country. The potential here is great,” Mbonigaba said.
Value for money

Mbonigaba, however, lamented that in some cases, irrigation schemes that are already under implementation have never showed real value for money.

He said there was still a challenge of sustainable management of agricultural irrigation schemes.

“Irrigated areas are meant to produce high value crops. We did cost benefit analysis, but can we make it? For example, the irrigation scheme in Rurambi, Bugesera District is not doing so well. About 400 hectares are not being put to proper use,” Mbonigaba said.

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