To improve rice yields, poorly equipped mills will be closed

Although the government has been making a lot of effort to improve rice yields, domestic production remains insufficient due to inadequate techniques including poor processing.

According to Agriculture Minister Agnes Kalibata, given the available marshlands more high-quality rice should be available. (photo Eric Didier Karinganire)

According to Agriculture Minister Agnes Kalibata, given the available marshlands more high-quality rice should be available. (photo Eric Didier Karinganire)

According to the officials, since rice has been identified as a priority crop by the government, the agriculture ministry invested lots of resources into the development of rice sub-sector in the country. The results of those efforts, however, are not as expected.

“We have been providing rice seeds, fertilizers and marshland, so why are still importing rice to satisfy the demand?” asked Agnes Kalibata, the Minister of Agriculture and animal Resources. “When we compare the quantity of rice produced and the potential yields considering the available marshlands, we see a big gap.”

She announced that at least 30,000 tons of processed rice is expected during the first season and 20,000 tons for the second, compared to an annual demand of around 57,000 tons. And buyers still complain about the high rice price.

According to Kalibata, the main problem lies in poor processing methods used by most farmers who often still hand-pound the rice (by battering it with wood or stones) which results in poor quality that cannot be sold on the market.

Given that there can be a significant improvement in both quality and quantity if farmers respect official regulations, the Minister said that the first measure would be to close those mills that do not meet the required standards while at the same time mobilizing farmers to take stakes in modern processing industries.

According to the national rice policy, Rwanda should attain self-sufficiency in rice production in 2020.

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