Rwanda seeks to boost wheat production to cut imports
Rwanda, which has become heavily dependent on wheat imports for domestic demand, aims to cut importations of the crop by allocating more land for farming.
The small central African country is targeting to put 95,000 hectares under wheat farming by 2019, in order to boost local production of the crop which has declined over the years.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Mark Cyubahiro Bagabe, director general of Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) said that allocating more land for wheat production would dramatically reduce importation of the crop.
"We need farmers to increase wheat production by adopting new varieties which are demanded by factories at home. We are targeting to plant wheat on 95,000 hectares across the country within two years," he added.
According to the Rwanda ministry of agriculture statistics, wheat is only cultivated on more than 55,000 hectares of wheat across the country.
Early this year, RAB introduced 10 wheat varieties that are expected to boost production due high yield potential and resilience to biotic stresses.
The country spends between USD35 million and USD40 million on wheatgrainsimports which widen trade deficit gap.
Rwanda currently has a significant trade deficit, to the tune of 15 per cent of the total gross domestic product (GDP) in recent years.
Agriculture in Rwanda accounts for a third of the country's GDP, employing about 80 percent of the total population. It contributes 47 percent of Rwanda's domestic goods and exports.
The country's second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS2) defines a large number of programs in the agriculture sector including the intensification of sustainable production systems in crop cultivation and animal husbandry.
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