The African Seed Access Index has released country report that indicates a growth in multiplication and use of certified seeds reducing the amount of seeds Rwanda imports including fake seeds.
The draft report presented this December 8, 2021 and to be approved soon, indicates an increase in seed varieties with 87 varieties released between 2018-2020-of these 55 (maize), 19 (bean), 2 (wheat) and 11 (soya bean)
The index shows a high uptake of improved seed usage and that maize taking the biggest lead in the number of tons produced annually.
The quantity of improved Maize seeds rose from 40,000 tons to 70.000 tons in between 2018-2020
Rwanda holds a high ranking among the top ten maize producing countries with 74% score. Other high scores were registered in Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Burundi, Kenya, Zambia, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Tanzania.
Though the government remains the largest seed multiplier (with an average of 80%, through subsidized programs), the report showed that large scale farmers using improved seeds increased from 52% in 2017 to 89% in 2020 while small scale farmers using improved seeds increased from 6% to 36% in the same period.
“This takes away the earlier complaints where farmers had raised issues of failed crop output in earlier seasons because of purchasing untrusted seeds and most of them imported in the country without any certification,” said Dr. Clement Urinzwenimana, the lead researcher.
The research also shows that Rwanda has put up a tight monitoring of seed quality to guarantee farmer benefits through the National Variety Evaluation Committee (NVRC) evaluation of seed varieties to be certified for multiplication.
For example between 2018 and 2019, a total of 101 varieties – 79 for maize, 6 for soybean, and 16 for wheat – were submitted by public and private breeders for release and registration.
Out of the total submissions made, 58 varieties (53 maize, 3 soya beans, and 2 wheat varieties) were cleared by the NVRC for release and registration.
This has also seen a reduction in counterfeit seeds distributed on the local market, with reported cases dropping from 28 in 2018 to 16 in 2020.
The report commended the government subsidized seed access to farmers which is under the Crop Intensification Program managed by Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resource Development Board.
In 2020, the government spent $30 million on inputs subsidy, including 21 million on fertilizers and $ 9 million on seeds.
This according to the report showed seed producers’ satisfaction with the program as higher compared to the previous report.
With Rwanda’s gender equality policy and 30% gender representation in leadership roles, the report also showed Rwanda had the highest percentage of seed companies with female top managers (24%) and women in management positions (27%) followed by Kenya, Ghana and Malawi while other countries have fewer than 15%.