New wheat varieties scale up output
Written by: Steven Nsamaza
Wednesday, June 28th, 2017, 8:47
Rising to the rank of Vice President of a Cooperative makes Jean Baptiste Ntuhinyurwa gratified by the choice he made to become a farmer. Ntuhinyurwawas born in Western Rwanda into a farming family. His chances to pursue some kind of education were as tiny as his age, but his ambition to become a recognised farmer in his society was big and glowed endlesly.
He recalls that when he became big enough he chose farming as his career. Unlike most people in the neighbourhood he took to professional farming, a choice he has not regretted to date.
It was not too long in this occupation Ntuhinyurwa joined a village farmers’ cooperative where he was the only teenager. Years of toils and patience have paid off. Ntuhinyurwa is now the vice president of his village cooperative.
Ntuhinyurwa, 33, joined KABKM cooperative of farmers from Mwendo cell in Kabaya Sector, Ngororero District in 2003. His life after joining this cooperative has never been the same He says, “Joining the cooperative was the best decision for me and I don’t regret it.”
“The cooperative has been of benefit to me. I have been able to raise a family which could hardly happen if I were working alone on a farmI apply best practices and modern farming methods which I learn from the cooperative on my own farm, notes Ntuhinyurwa.
Ntuhinyurwasays the new wheat varieties of rice he resorted to not so long ago have seen his half hectare increase its productivity. Through the cooperative he learnt how to use improved seed varieties provided by Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) researchers. This mitigated the effects of using tradition farming methods.
The cooperative that brings together 93 farmers sits on 25 hectares of land in Mwendo cell. They say the ministry of Agriculture has been very supportive by providing technical support and farm inputs such as fertilizers.
“Previously we were harvesting 700Kgs of wheat per hectare but with the new varieties our production has significantly increased to 3.5 tonnes,” said Jean Baptiste Ntuhinyurwa, the Vice President of KABKM Cooperative.
Ntuhinyurwa is not different from his colleagues in the Cooperative. Many members of this Cooperative own personal land near the homes.
The practice has helped small-scale farmers like Ntuhinyurwawith ample information on scaling up land productivity. No wonder, some of them do better farming than their counterparts who do not belong to any cooperative.
Mwendo Sector agronomist,FulgenceNdikubwimanasays the new wheatvariety planted by the cooperative is Nyaruka, it is the latest wheat variety RABresearchershave released.Nyaruka does well in mountainous lands. This explains why it is popular in the western regions of Rwanda.
Ndikubwimana projects the production in Mwendo to rise up to 3.8 tonnes per hectare this season. He attributes the anticipated rise in wheat production to the application of the recommended farming methods and new wheat variety.
The Rwanda Agriculture Board in January this year released 10 new wheat varieties developed by researchers which are adaptable to Rwanda’s agro-ecology and were found to be highly yielding.
By 2019Rwanda will not be importing any wheat seeds. Currently, the country spends a staggering $35 million on wheat grains imports.
RAB works with professional farmers including KABKM cooperative to multiply wheat seeds.
Wheat in Rwanda is grown in hilly areas mainly in the northern and western parts of the country on about 35,000 hectares in rain fed conditions mainly by smallholder farmers. Currently locally grown varieties serve domestic consumption and basic scale baking while large scale consumers import wheat.