DISASTERS AND CORONAVIRUS, MENACE TO FARMERS
Most of farmers in Rwanda are suffering heavy losses, after their crops were severely damaged by heavy rains, which devastated agriculture in Rwanda, especially in May 2020. So far, Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB), states that at least six thousand hectares (6,000 Ha) of various crops which were ready to be harvested, were severely damaged by these disasters.
According to Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB), some of the worst-hit crops include rice in the Southern and Eastern Provinces, beans (which were cultivated on an area of more than 360,000 hectares), corn, sugarcane, sorghum, and more.
According to the Federation of Rice Farmers Cooperatives in Rwanda, at least now in their calculations, they have lost more than Rwf2,800,000,000, which is more than $ 3 294 117. But as a farmer is like a mother, they never give up.
Mr. GAHIZA Apollinaire, the chairperson of the federation, said: “We have already lost a lot, and we are still receiving new statistics on disasters. Just because the Farmer is like a mother, we are not going to be discouraged, but we are going to look at how to prepare for another growing season where possible.”
It was not only the crops in farms that were preparing for the harvest, but also the harvest was affected as these disasters hardened the local trade in the country, because heavy rains damaged many bridges, and farmers couldn’t access the market.
Disasters, additional menace to Covid-19/ heavy burden to a farmer
The floods, which hit agriculture, came as Rwanda was in the throes of a Coronavirus, where all Rwandans were asked to stay at home for nearly two months. All of this has had a combined impact on agriculture, including:
-The damage to some crops which were expected to save farmers’ lives,
-Losses on the money they have invested in farming, and now that they do not know where to raise money to pay financial institutions,
-Trade has been greatly reduced,
-The markets have been very small,
-Those who have farms far away have not been able to access them,
-Small number of workers as they have to comply with one-meter directive, and so on.
How can a strained farmer be saved?
Supporting farmers to get rid of this catastrophe is to help the country as a whole to keep agriculture the cornerstone of the lives of Rwandans.
Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board says that due to floods, they are now waiting for water to rise and see if they can improve. Otherwise, the farmer will be waiting for the 2021 A farming season.
Jean Claude IZAMUHAYE is Head of Department of Crop Research and Technology Transfer at Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB): “There are a lot of plants that have been affected by the rains, some of which have been affected by the floods. We are now waiting for at least that flood to dry up to see if there is anything the farmer will harvest. Otherwise, it is to wait for another planting season 2021 A, so that at least farmers can be helped to get the seeds to plant at that time” he said.
In addition to this, Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board says that in such cases they would seek immediate assistance, what can be done in the near future to keep people out of the mess, which requires high capacity to be done in the long run. It is an inspection that they say is also being done to see what is possible, where they would be surveying to see if there is more damage and urgency; but the point is clear that it is urgent, because if it is not done quickly the population could be affected by the famine caused by the effects of Covid-19 and the effects of the rains.