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Forum in Kigali, Rwanda: Growing Food In African Cities

The State Minister for Agriculture, Fulgence Nsengiyumva, said at the event that there are about 450 hectares of marshlands developed for agriculture in Kigali City.

The Exchange
Feb 9, 2017

Excerpt:

Dr. Athanase Mukuralinda, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Rwanda Country representative, said that cities can for instance have vegetable gardens which can contribute to their food needs.

FAO Rwanda representative Attaher Maiga said that city dwellers can also engage in fish farming, which can be done in small spaces and can help reduce food insecurity.

Rwanda’s population is growing by 2.5 percent per year.

The country’s total population is projected to nearly double from the current 12 million to 21 million in 2050.

The Rwandan government’s Vision 2020 plan projects an urbanisation growth rate of 35 percent by 2020 from 16.5 percent in 2012.

The State Minister for Agriculture, Fulgence Nsengiyumva, said at the event that there are about 450 hectares of marshlands developed for agriculture in Kigali City.

Currently, peasants are using those marshlands with traditional farming methods.

The land could be farmed more effectively with modern farming skills to contribute to food needs in the city.

“From October to December [2016], about 6,000 tonnes of vegetables, including cabbage, carrots, eggplants, and about 5,000 tonnes of fruit, including mango and oranges were imported in Kigali,” he said. “We are able to produce all this in Rwanda.”

This shows that an effort to grow vegetables in Kigali City could be successful, Nsengiyumva said.

The head of the European Union’s delegation to Rwanda, Ambassador Michael Ryan, said that Rwanda’s agriculture sector, which is at present largely traditional, needs to adopt new technology and agricultural engineering.

Makiko Taguchi, agriculture officer for rural and urban crop and mechanisation systems at FAO, said that cities should recycle organic waste so they practice things like composting to ensure agriculture productivity.

Another participant, Dr. Athanase Mukuralinda called on farmers to vary their fertiliser use between organic and inorganic materials to make soil more productive.

“Fertiliser application should not be the same to all soils because the soils nutrient needs as well as the climate are not the same across the country,” he added.

FAO’s Maiga said that smallholder farmers can also contribute to food for cities, especially when governments help them access broader urban markets and apply modern skills for increased productivity.

Smallholder farmers are often frustrated from selling food in cities when they encounter transport bottlenecks, according to Maiga.

Not everyone who goes hungry does so because there is no food; sometimes the food is in the wrong place.

Taguchi said a lot of food is lost between the producer and the consumer.

Read the complete article here.