By Akanimo Sampson
Rwanda has launched its Soil Information Service programme. The launching was done by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources through the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resource Development Board (RAB) in collaboration with the IITA in Rwanda.
The programme, which has a duration of two and half years, aims to develop fertilizer and lime recommendations for Rwandan crops, provide information on different types and occurrence of erosion, and design a functional and interactive National Soil Information Service to monitor changes in soil properties.
RAB Deputy Director-General, Dr Charles Murekezi, says “mainly, as a government, we aim to manage fertilizer and lime use on our different soils. Research has demonstrated that the fertilizer and lime that we distribute currently to farmers around the country, do not give yields at desired levels, and yield gaps are still huge. In brief, the programme will study what is lacking in our soil to give the desired harvest.”
Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the programme will support the government in making evidence-based decisions, where investments in soils can have the highest returns.
It will help to lay foundations for a modern soil information service that will rationalize the costs of obtaining high-quality soil data while building accessible geospatial data systems based on FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interpretable, Reusable) principles that will leverage legacy and new investments in soil analytics. Also, it will provide timely information on soil fertility, acidity, and erosion.
The information generated by the project will assist key stakeholders, including ministries, fertilizer companies, and the private sector in Rwanda, in providing evidence to support their decision-making processes.
Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Jean Claude Musabyimana, in his remarks, during the launching of the programme, says it will assist in maximising productivity in agriculture, and foster investments in local fertilizer manufacturing.
“This project perfectly aligns with National Strategy for Transformation, which aims to maintain the agriculture sector at a stable average growth rate of at least 5.7% per year from 2017 to 2024, requiring considerable gains in land and agricultural efficiency,” Musabyimana said.
As one of the key partners in this programme, IITA will be coordinating the external partnerships of the the programme to identify and continuously follow up on their roles during the implementation of the project.