The government is considering opening up seed multiplication and distribution to the private sector.
This the government says, is expected to ease distribution of seeds to farmers in areas where Rwanda Agriculture Board has not been able to reach.
This is expected to improve seed distribution as well as increase uptake of local improved seeds which are affordable and of good quality to cushion farmers against high costs of imported seeds.
Moreover, local improved seeds are likely to be suitable and easier to adapt for farming compared with imported seeds, reducing the risk of farmers losing money on imported seeds which may not be suitable to the local climate.
Increasing uptake of locally improved seeds will also ease distribution, allowing farmers to access other farm inputs on time.
Currently, farmers continue to complain and express concerns over delays in receiving the seeds ahead of the planting season while others are also concerned about the quality.
Under the proposed Public-Private Partnership (PPP), RAB will focus on research while the multiplication of the certified seeds, which are distributed to the farmers, will be left to the private sector.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the country envisages to locally producing around 75 per cent of the seeds needed in the country by 2024.
“By Rwanda Agriculture Board exiting from this process, we are expecting to have more investment coming in the sector, the new innovations intensified competitiveness for better services and efficiency in seeds delivery,” said Charles Bucagu, deputy director general of Agriculture Research and Technology Transfer in Rwanda Agriculture Board.
Currently, the government has been taking the lead of seed multiplication for maize, soybean and wheat. However, the country also still imports maize hybride, wheat and soybean to meet demand which has been increasing.
Farmers have lauded the proposal, saying if implemented would improve seed distribution though sensitisation of farmers is needed to increase uptake in the long term.
Figures from the Ministry of Agriculture show that around 67 per cent of wheat seeds, 44.4 per cent of the soybean and 88.9 per cent of the maize seeds are locally made.
“Multiplication of the seed of diversified crops at the local level is not widely exploited… This makes these seeds inaccessible by the farmers who need them,” said Emmanuel Ndayizigiye, head of Horticulture in Reality Corporation Rwanda- HoReCo Rwanda.