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February 09, 2012

Rwanda aims for rice self-sufficiency by 2016

None of Africa’s major rice-consuming countries is self-sufficient in the cereal. Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya, and several others have rice-growing efforts of various levels, but none seems close to significantly reducing imports from Asia. Apart from cultivation and other difficulties that plague these schemes, the locally grown rice varieties have sometimes also faced consumer resistance because of their differences in appearance, taste, ease of cooking and so on, compared to the imported varieties many have become accustomed to.

Rwanda has an ambitious plan to supply all its own rice needs by 2016. As part of the plan, a 1750 hectare wetland in the country’s Nyagatare District has been set aside for rice cultivation.

According to the New Times newspaper, the minister of agriculture said 200 of the wetland had been reclaimed for rice cultivation under the World Bank-funded Muvumba Marshland Rehabilitation Project. 750 more hectares were expected to be ready for the beginning of the rice planting season at the beginning of January 2012.

“Our target is to harvest 22,000 tonnes of rice every year from the marshland, which will significantly reduce the current importation burden,” agriculture minister Agnes Kalibata said. “From our plan to cultivate in 100,000 hectares of land under the RSSP, 50 percent of which will be used for rice production, we are certain that within 7 years we will have enough rice, not only for local consumption, but also for export.”

According to Kalibata, the country consumes approximately 55,000 tonnes of rice every year.

African Agriculture

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