Farmers have complained about delays in the distribution of improved seed varieties for planting.
This is one of the concerns addressed to members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Environment who are currently on a nationwide tour aimed at assessing irrigation schemes and land use consolidation programme. Farmers say this affects food security.
The MPs have since May 11 traversed the country and interacted with farmers.
The tour is aimed at monitoring seed and fertiliser distribution, village settlement as well as land consolidation plans.
Speaking to The New Times from Musanze District, on Wednesday, MP Gabriel Semasaka, the Committee chairperson, said timely seed distribution was a serious concern.
“In all the areas we have so far toured, people tell us that seeds either arrive late or in smaller quantities than expected. It is clear that people now appreciate the value of improved seeds and when they are delivered late or in small amounts, it becomes a problem,” Semasaka said.
MP Suzanne Mukayijore, the committee vice chair who was leading another group that toured Gatsibo District, reported similar findings.
“Late delivery of seeds is a problem here. We are informed that beans are often not delivered at all and farmers still use the old variety. We’ve also heard of cases of maize seeds that were distributed but never sprouted because they did not adapt to the soils,” Mukayijore said.
Semasaka said farmers are committed to working towards self-reliance but feel that the Ministry of Agriculture was not giving them enough support.
Gervais Ngerero, the head of the National Seed Special Programme at the Rwanda Agricultural Board (Rab), said that there should be no complaints about beans varieties as the government has since stopped distribution of bean seeds to farmers.
On maize and other seeds, he admitted that “delays are possible in some areas” because Rab also gets the seeds late due to a complex procurement process.
Ngerero said: “We as well get seeds late but this is an issue that we are working hard to rectify. The plan is for seed companies to do the direct distribution to people and we only come in to pay our subsidies later so as to ensure faster delivery.”
Dealing with seed companies calls for patience. We have to wait for 45 days before companies set prices. Even after that, it takes some days before these companies start planning and executing delivery to us. And then we also deliver to farmers,” he said, adding that the government is currently in talks with the seed companies with view to fix the problem.
Rab has previously admitted having limited quantity of improved seeds.
The MPs are set to wrap up their tour on May 27, and submit a report to Parliament that will guide the House’s course of action.
Source: The New Times