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FAO Launched a 2 years Project of FIA17-FIA 25 banana Seeds distribution intended to increase Banana productivity in Rwanda.

Author Jerome MUNYENTWALI Views

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the Government of Rwanda trough the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources MINAGRI, launched a new project titled “Support for Enhancing the production and Distribution of Seeds and Banana Planting Material” this project launched on November 27, 2018 in Kigali, is there to support the government’s efforts to improve farmers’ access to healthy and high yielding banana planting material.

The project was thought of as Banana production in Rwanda is still facing several threats ranging from diseases and pests invasion, limited skills and knowledge of farmers to detect and manage these pests and diseases, to limited availability of high yielding and pest/disease tolerant varieties, poor soil fertility and poor banana husbandry practices.

The government initiated a banana improvement program to address the challenges in the banana industry, through which high yielding and disease or pest tolerant banana varieties were introduced, as well as improved integrated crop and disease management technologies.

The launched project will seek disseminate knowledge and skills in integrated crop and disease management technologies and facilitate the rehabilitation and revitalization of bananas farms and lead to sustainable banana production in Rwanda.

Dr. Gualbert Gbehounou, FAO Country Representative of Rwanda

Talking to the FAO Rwanda Country Representative, Dr. Gualbert Gbehounou, he said “ Before this project, I have been discussing with my staffs and they told me that [I don’t have food In Rwanda means I don’t have Banana or I don’t have beans, depending on the area] so we are supporting the right entity for the domestic market”

The trigger for FAO is always national priorities, as banana is one of priority plantation in Rwanda in its Strategic Plan for Agriculture Transformation 4 (PSTA4) for its importance in terms of food security and as crops that can make a lot of money. This lasting 2 years Projects is distributing more than 60 thousand of new banana trees. The number of beneficiaries will increase depending on farmer to famer Plants decentralized method. Dr.Gbehounou added.

Director General in charge of agricultural development in the Ministry of Agriculture and animal resources Dr.Charles Murekezi in this Project Launching Event said that the 5 selected districts are known on banana Plantations and some of local farmers from them are still planting traditional banana trees. Furthermore they all face banana pests/diseases and this is the reason why they need more new strong banana seeds able to fight the pests and that they start yielding much more.

He said ”The government of Rwanda through MINAGRI, we already have programs that intend to benefit to Banana farmers in terms of trainings and handing in them with new varieties of Banana seeds, in 2005 we had 25% of Banana Plantain and now in 2018 it has increased to 45% of them with a very good marketable quality harvest”

Dr.Charles Murekezi, Director General in charge of agricultural development in the Ministry of Agriculture and animal resources.

Dr. Murekezi added that Rwanda used to import Banana food from Uganda, but now it is self-reliant on Banana production at the level of 99% and it is now exporting it in neighboring countries.

23% of 1.4 Million Hectares of Rwanda entire farmland is occupied by banana plantation, so the banana farmers are called to perform well their job by using chemical and natural fertilizers and fighting all banana plants diseases as they may reach 60 tones yield per hectare.

The Ministry of Agriculture is also calling farmers to follow planting spacing which is 3/3 meters instead of continue following the 4/4 meters spacing they adapted over decades.

Some of banana diseases found on Rwanda surface include Banana Weevil, Bugtok disease, bunchy top virus, Banana wilt, etc.
The traditional banana farming was yielding from 2 to 5 kilos of bunch of banana whereas the new FIA 17 and FIA 25 brought in by FAO Project will increase productivity by about three times compared to the old banana variety.

This project will also contribute to the supply of other seeds (maize, beans, soybeans and vegetables).This intervention will target five districts, namely Gisagara, Muhanga, Karongi, Rwamagana and Rubavu.

Support for Enhancing the production and Distribution of Seeds and Banana Planting Material FAO project will mobilize about 250 million rwf, and it is brought in as Rwanda has it, Under its six-year Strategic Plan for Agriculture Transformation (PSTA4). The country targets also to increase the productivity of banana as one of staple crops embedded in the transformed Crop Intensification Program (CIP).

The launching event was attended by about 40 participants from the key stakeholders including farmers’ organizations and institutions such as, MINAGRI, RAB, Districts of interventions, and IFAD among others.

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