Govt to release new seeds and reduce imports as it phases out old varieties

Wednesday April 3 2019

maize

The new seed varieties are expected to increase yields. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA  

JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
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The agriculture ministry said the planned release of new alternatives varieties will see the phasing out of a number of decades-old seed varieties and reduce imports.

Figures show that multipliers of new seed varieties produced from local research could make enough volumes to reduce spending on imports by half by the end of this year.

According to the ministry, this will see production of more than 1,981 tonnes of hybrid maize, 346 tonnes of wheat and 292 tonnes of soybean seeds.

Imports for hybrid maize, wheat and soybean seeds stood at 3,000, 800 and 300 metric tonnes respectively. The multiplication process for these crops and others like rice, Irish potatoes and cassava has been taking place during the 2018 agricultural season A&B as well as 2019 season A, and are expected to be released to farmers in the coming season.

“The multiplication of seeds obtained through local research is now at 50 per cent. We intend to achieve 65 per cent by the 2019/2020 fiscal year and have enough to meet the demand by 2020/2021,” said agriculture minister Gerardine Mukeshimana in a recent note to parliament.

The Ministry of Agriculture said seed companies namely Kenya Seed Company and Western Seed company, which had been importing seeds had since set up multiplication centres in different parts of the country such as Nasho, Mpanga, Rwangingo, Gabiro, Gashora, Kamonyi and Muhanga, among others.

Rwanda Today also learnt that multiplication of eight varieties of locally developed hybrid maize with the potential of yielding seven tonnes per hectare was taking place in demonstration plots in Huye, Nyanza, Gatsibo, Kayonza, Rwamagana and Nyagatare.

Demonstration plots were to be continued in season 2019B starting in April, according to officials.

There are two new seed varieties for soybean, and 10 new varieties of wheat with a yield potential ranging from 3.5 to 7.5 tonnes per hectare while cassava varieties were being tested together with NASE14 and NARROCAS1, which had been introduced in response to the cassava mosaic disease which ravaged key cassava growing areas in 2016.

The agriculture ministry said all the seeds were tested in laboratories and grown in different sites to ensure their suitability and adaptability to different ecological zones.

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