The National Agricultural Show opened yesterday at Mulindi grounds in Gasabo District with focus on showcasing various agricultural technologies meant to fight effects of climate change.
Effects of climate change, especially drought, have caused severe effects on crops worldwide.
“This year, we will focus on technologies that can help us combat climate change due to its disastrous effects,” the Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr Gerardine Mukeshimana, said while briefing journalists on Wednesday ahead of the opening.
The five-day exhibition was organised under the theme, “Adopt climate resilient technologies to improve farmers’ livelihoods.”
About 150 people and entities from farming sector have already registered to participate in the show, compared to 115 in last year’s event, according to information from the ministry.
Minister Mukeshimana said a farmer pays Rwf5,000 for an exhibition stand.
Technologies that will be on display include irrigation machinery, improved drought resistant seed varieties, post-harvest handling techniques, and grass cutting and compressing machines.
A variety of farm products, including those for export such as vegetables, fish, banana, and dairy products will also be on display.
Financial institutions, seed companies as well as insurance companies will showcase their products.
The exhibition, according to the minister, will help link people who have the technologies and farmers.
The head of crop production and food security at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), Dr Telesphore Ndabamenye, said that irrigation has improved crop yields.
Minister Mukeshimana said there is need for sufficient quality seeds, fertilisers, water, and extension services to ensure productive farming.
Mukeshimana said such shows also offer an opportunity for networking, sharing of knowledge and experiences.
The chairperson of chamber of Rwanda farmers at Private Sector Federation (PSF), Christine Murebwayire, told The New Times that the show also helps farmers to get information on where to get necessary farm inputs.
“We should get rid of traditional farming and change mentality about irrigation. When drought hits, we should not lament but adopt irrigation technologies to withstand its effects,” she said.
According to Ndabamenye, over 45,000 hectares of land are being irrigated across the country.
Minister Mukeshimana said about 5,600 hectares are so far under small scale irrigation, thanks to the government’s subsidy (about 50 percent of the cost of irrigation equipment).
She encouraged farmers to make use of such irrigation subsidy facility.
The Government targets to irrigate 100,000 hectares of land by 2020, while the total farmland that can be irrigated is 600,000 hectares, as per figures from RAB.
A recent report on State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) 2016 titled “Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security” by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) stated that the impacts of climate change are expected to be substantial.
It warned that the population living in poverty could increase by between 35 and 122 million by 2030 relative to a future without climate change, largely due to its negative impacts on incomes in the agricultural sector.
The increase in the number of poor would be biggest in sub-Saharan Africa, partly because its population is more reliant on agriculture.