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Rwanda seeks to boost wheat production to cut imports 

KIGALI, (Xinhua) -- Rwanda, which has become heavily dependent on wheat imports for domestic demand, aims to cut importations of the crop by allocating more land for farming.

The small central African country is targeting to put 95,000 hectares under wheat farming by 2019, in order to boost local production of the crop which has declined over the years.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Mark Cyubahiro Bagabe, director general of Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) said that allocating more land for wheat production would dramatically reduce importation of the crop.

“We need farmers to increase wheat production by adopting new varieties which are demanded by factories at home. We are targeting to plant wheat on 95,000 hectares across the country within two years,” he added.

According to the Rwanda ministry of agriculture statistics, wheat is only cultivated on more than 55,000 hectares of wheat across the country.

Early this year, RAB introduced 10 wheat varieties that are expected to boost production due high yield potential and resilience to biotic stresses.

The country spends between 35 million U.S. dollars and 40 million U.S. dollars on wheat grains imports which widen trade deficit gap.

Rwanda currently has a significant trade deficit, to the tune of 15 per cent of the total GDP in recent years.

Agriculture in Rwanda accounts for a third of the country’s GDP, employing about 80 percent of the total population. It contributes 47 percent of Rwanda’s domestic goods and exports.

The country’s second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS2) defines a large number of programs in the agriculture sector including the intensification of sustainable production systems in crop cultivation and animal husbandry.


China’s aid through UN system changing lives in Africa 

By Ronald Ssekandi, Yuan Qing KAMPALA, (Xinhua) -- The rainy season has set off and in the swampy villages of Budaka district in eastern Uganda, Joyce Nabejja tills her hybrid rice field in anticipation of greater yields. 

Nabejja is one of the thousands of Ugandan small scale farmers benefiting from an agriculture project that is run by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Ugandan government and China.

The two million U.S. dollar project, which is in its second phase, is run under the FAO South-South Cooperation program. It was set up to help developing countries share knowledge and expertise so that all can benefit from innovations and good practices that have been tried and tested in countries facing similar conditions and challenges.

This program is part of China’s move to channel its aid to Africa and other parts of the world through multilateral organizations like the UN.

In September 2015, China made major pledges in foreign aid, including two billion U.S. dollars to support South-South cooperation and debt relief for least-developed countries.

Also among the pledges is a 10-year, one billion dollars peace and development fund to support the UN.

These pledges have started exerting a positive influence on Africa, one of the major beneficiaries.

Farmers in Uganda are being trained by Chinese agronomists on better farming skills. The scientists have introduced Chinese hybrid rice Foxtail millet, apple farming, and irrigation among others.

From rice field to the classroom, China is also helping to boost Africa’s education sector to promote social development.

About a week ago, the Chinese government through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) donated equipment to three teacher training institutions in Uganda.

Figures from the Chinese embassy here show that 137 tutors were trained and 272 pieces of Information Communication and Technology, and studio equipment were donated.

The tutors were skilled on how to integrate technology with traditional methods of training, according to Beatrice Byakutaga, head of Shimon Primary Teachers College, one of the three beneficiary institutions in Uganda.

Other African countries like Ethiopia, Namibia and Cote d’Ivoire are benefiting from the same scheme of skilling teachers and trainers.

China has in the past decade been in the front line of supporting UN peacekeeping efforts in Africa, with more than 2,400 Chinese blue helmets currently on duties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia, Sudan, South Sudan and Mali. The troops carry out security, engineering and medical work.

The Chinese military engineers in the DRC have been involved in road renovation, bridge construction, landmine detection and airport maintenance, while the medical personnel have been providing treatment for local people.

China is the biggest contributor to UN peacekeeping forces among the five UN Security Council permanent members.

In 2015, China also pledged to provide military aid worth 100 million dollars to the African Union to support the African Standby Force, Africa’s peacekeeping troops.




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