By Liesse Niwe
Rwanda could start exporting different varieties of maize seeds to Central Africa Republic (CAR) and DR Congo, according to the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB).
Rwanda has already shipped samples of seeds for trails in the two central African nations, Patrick Karangwa, Director General of RAB told The New Times.
“We have already started the adaptability trial phase of the seeds in these countries, so we can see the kind of harvest these seeds yield and how they adapt to the environment in these countries,” Karangwa said.
DR Congo, he disclosed, is the biggest potential market because it is a big agricultural country and most of the soil type there is like the one in Rwanda.
Early this week, Rwandan officials held discussions with their CAR’s institute in charge of agriculture to see how the seeds are doing in the country.
“These imports could increase the suppliers of seeds we have in the country and even go beyond producing higher amounts of seeds which can lead to high value in our agriculture because seeds have higher value than the actual consumption of the product” he said.
The deals, which come in the wake of surplus production of seeds in Rwanda, will certainly improve Kigali’s trade balance where imports still outweigh exports.
Rwanda now produces twice the amount of maize seeds it used to import a couple of years ago, Karangwa said.
“Production of local seeds has now exceeded the amount of seed usually absorbed on the local market, and efforts are continuing to increase the level of use of improved seed by Rwandan farmers, as well as possibilities of exporting seed in the region,” he said.
Rwanda stopped importing maize, wheat and soybean seeds in September 2021.
The government used import 3,500 metric tonnes of Maize, spending in excess of Rwf6 billion every year.
Currently, Rwanda produces 8,875 metric tonnes of quality seeds including 7,207 metric tonnes of maize hybrid, with the number of accredited private seed multipliers for major crops at 900 including 30 seed companies able to produce and market seed directly to farmers.
In the current fiscal year 2021/2022, no importation of seed under government subsidy was made, as the country achieved self-sufficiency of seed of maize, soybean and wheat.
Karangwa added that they currently do not have a projection of how much the country could generate from these exports.
“But based on the value of the seeds and the policy of commercial agriculture of the country then we are safe to say we expect a significant income from this” he added.
Jean Gahozaho, an agro-deal in seed multiplier welcomed this potential initiative saying that it will provide a good market for their seeds beyond the local production, adding that it could potentially boost their businesses.
“The hardest thing for us has been finding a market for the seeds we produce because we produce more than is needed at the local market yet we invest a lot in seed multiplication which sometimes results in losses for us,” he added.