One of the major factors contributing to low national average maize yield in Rwanda is small-scale farmers’ limited access to improved maize seed, as was stated by Claver Ngaboyisonga (Crop Research and Extension at Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) director), Nyiringabo Ignace (Win Win Agri-tech Ltd director), and Ngoga Claudien (Agriculture Promotion – Sarura Seed Company director) during a Seed Business Management training organized by Win Win Agritech Ltd and CIMMYT from 4 to 6 September 2012 at the Pastoral Centre in Kigali, Rwanda. The training aimed to increase awareness on quality seed production and marketing, and to improve the skills and knowledge among new small seed companies, as quality seed production and marketing are challenges the sector is yet to overcome.
Maize cultivation in Rwanda is rapidly expanding due to changes in cropping systems, agricultural policies, and use of inputs such as fertilizer and new maize varieties adapted to different agro-ecologies. However, the national average yield remains low at 2.4 t/ha, despite the increase in area under maize cultivation from 109,400 ha in 2005 to 223,414 ha in 2011 and in production from 97,251 t in 2005 to 525,679 t in 2011. According to Ngaboyisonga, public-private partnership and involvement of private seed companies in seed production and marketing of quality improved seed is crucial for increasing the national average yield.
To achieve this goal, 28 participants from Win Win Agri-tech Ltd, Agriculture Promotion Company Ltd- Sarura, and RAB participated in the training program covering all aspects of the seed business, spanning from variety identification to marketing. The sessions were coordinated by CIMMYT seed systems specialists Mosisa Worku Regasa and James Gethi. Maereka Enock Kuziwa, a course participant, expressed satisfaction with the way the program was organized and conducted. “Seed business is a relatively new field in the Rwandan market and continuing support from CIMMYT to the seed business industry in Rwanda would be very useful,” added Ignace. This training will go a long way in promoting the use of improved maize varieties, especially those developed by CIMMYT in collaboration with RAB.