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How Rwanda Plans To Save Farmers From Effects Of #COVID-19

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Rwanda has announced a comprehensive economic recovery plan and its implementation starts May up to the end of December in the first phase (2020).

This plan includes two-parts, first part consists of; Monetary Policy, Fiscal Policy and interventions in specific sectors such as Agriculture, support to Private sector, Infrastructure projects for growth and jobs, Technology and Innovation plus Mining.

The second part is Social Protection Relief and Recovery Plan to #COVID19 (SP-RRP). It aims at fixing the negative effects on the vulnerability of rural and urban households by providing a packaged approach addressing different needs related to the #COVID-19 crisis.

Ever since the country slid into an almost two-month hibernation period under a #COVID-19 lockdown, all sectors of the economy plummeted, causing devastating effects ranging from massive financial loses, business closures and loss of jobs.

As the country reopens back to normal, with some anti #COVID-19 measures still in place until September, government has come up with a plan to help the economy return on its feet.

This recovery plan estimated at a cost of Rwf800 billion aims at guiding the government on required key interventions across different sectors that would provide support to households and boost employment and growth towards recovery.

“As we adopt the recovery plan, we want to address issues of social protection, agriculture. We need to improve productivity, and food security,” said Uzziel Ndagijimana-Minister for Finance and Economic Planning.

Farmer tending to her beetroot. In the government Economic recovery plan, farmers are advised to consider venturing into vegetable crops during July-September 2020.

How Are farmers Helped?

The country has been experiencing heavy rains that are expected to slow down mid-May and this will lead to transition into the start of a long dry season all through up to almost October.  This means that by now season 2020B is over.

However, before the water in the soils dries up, farmers have an opportunity to plant sweet potatoes and cassava, which are resilient to drought. “The Ministry of Agriculture will provide urea to be used in maize plantations,” according to recovery plan document.

Government also wants farmers to use this period to prepare for season 2020C and says it will provide necessary inputs. Farmers, who are not able to afford seeds and fertilisers, will be supported to access them.

In Season 2020C, Agriculture and Local government ministries will mobilise communities to cultivate all irrigation sites, marshlands and hillsides.

Between July and September- a mostly dry period, the Ministry of Agriculture says it has identified horticulture crops to be considered when valorizing marshland in season C (tomato, onion, eggplant, watermelon, cucumber, lettuce, carrots, French beans etc.). These vegetables will be cultivated on 1,833 ha. There is a need of vegetable seeds equivalent to 17,952 kg.

To valorize these marshlands in season C, the identified area will require 18,330 Kg and 366,600 Kg respectively for organic fertilisers and mineral fertilisers.

Sweet potatoes will be cultivated on 1,000 ha. and needs distribution of 42,000 cuttings, 10,000MT of organic fertiliser and 200MT of mineral fertilisers.

Carrots including other vegetables should be considered for planting in marshlands

2021 Farming Seasons Also Planned For

The recovery plan has detailed arrangements for the 2021A and 2021B seasons. Government has planned that in these seasons it will increase the availability, access and use of inputs (improved seed, fertilizers, lime and water).

On improved seeds, government has a plan of ensuring availability of sufficient quantities of hybrid maize, wheat and soybean seed – and shall be made affordable.

Availability of fertilizers is an important component in realizing good yields in the 2021A and 2021B seasons.

Government says in its economic recovery plan that it will ensure orders and shipment for fertilizers for the 2021 seasons are made on time.

Rwandan farmers under economic categories (Ubudehe 1&2) will receive farm inputs under social protection programs so as to improve their food security situation.

In this recovery plan, farmers are required to use lime. The government says it will ensure there are no delays in procurement and delivery of lime to farmers in need. Small-Scale irrigation programs will receive support too.

According to government, it is projected that the food reserve should store an equivalent of maize and beans for 10% of the population at 2,500Kcal per person per day.

This shall be achieved by increasing resources for National Strategic Reserves to stock food, by supporting the districts to establish their own district food reserves and mobilising farmers to have community stores as well as storage facilities at the household-level.

Small scale irrigation projects will receive support from government to maneuver through the effects of Covid-19

Business

Hundreds Of Passengers Miss Flight In Uganda Due To Delayed COVID-19 Tests

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Hundreds of Ugandans have been left stranded at Entebbe International Airport by the Emirates Airways after the laboratory where they had taken their Covid-19 results delayed to return them on time.

In a Snapchat post by Ugandan socialite Sheila Gashumba, she ranted, ‘’When I tell Ugandans that Covid in Uganda is a business they say I have ‘kajanja’.

Now all Emirates passengers have missed their flights because Safari Lab sent Covid results at 2:45pm and Emirates closed its gate at 3pm.

The hospital said it couldn’t work on everyone in the short time.

Around 300 passengers missed their flight yet Safari Lab had made a total of UgSh75m since everyone had paid UGX 250,000 for the test.

In the video where all passengers were visibly angry and frustrated, they can be heard asking for what the solution is and who is going to pay for the tickets again now that those that they had paid for can no longer be used anymore.

Passengers expressed their frustration at the rot in the service.

“I experienced such thing in March as the officers in charge claimed that the gates were close at 1pm as the flight was at 3pm,” one twitter user said.

Some made jokes out of it and asked, if this was because of the US$10 tax that is in the process of being introduced and will be paid by anyone that leaves the country using the Entebbe International Airport.

Another twitter user @kasoxialex2000 asked, ‘’@UgandaCAA (Uganda Civil Aviation Authority), but seriously you guys when you move to some airports don’t you copy something? Why are we ever backwards??? Stop embarrassing us. Who will save Uganda’’
By press time there was no official communication from the Civil Aviation Authority, Safari Lab nor Emirates Airways.

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Kagame Tells Bankers, Banking Can’t Just Be “Service For Elites”

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Banking can’t just be a service for elites, President Paul Kagame has said.  He made the remarks while speaking at the 14th Annual Banking and Finance Conference in Nigeria that he attended virtually.

Running under the theme, ‘’Economic Recovery, Inclusion and Transformation: The Role of Banking and Finance’’, the two-day conference will aim at the need to reposition the Finance and Banking sector as a catalyst for Economic recovery, transformation and inclusive growth.

In his remarks, he noted how the Covid pandemic has affected every aspect of Africa’s economies but at the same time also presents an opportunity for African banks to play a leading role in making societies more resilient and more responsive to the needs of Africans.

‘’Whatever affects business, affects banking. Financial services are the engine of private sector development. Banks are crucial for allocating capital wisely and productively,’’ he further added.

President Kagame noted that, in order to stay competitive, there is need to keep integrating new technology into banking to increase financial inclusion and access as banking can’t just be a service of elites.

He also went ahead to reemphasize what he has always said when it comes to African states always depending on the West and other countries for support. ‘’Indeed, Africa has the resources to fund its own economic growth and reduce dependence on external resources,’’ he said.

Kagame also noted that the African Continental Free Trade Area is creating new opportunities for Pan African Trade and investment. ‘’Banks with continental reach, like several of the institutions represented here can lead the way in cementing economic integration.’’

As he concluded, he stated how the banking sector, more than any other, understands the importance of integrity and good customer service. ‘’Banking is ultimately about trust. We look to you to set the pace in this regard. Our role as governments is to maintain good enabling environments, protecting both shareholders and customers while allowing for innovation. We expect you to keep challenging us on this,’’ he said.

In attendance at the same conference was the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Edwin Emefiele who made a huge announcement.  He said, ‘’Central Bank, will, in the next twelve months be establishing the Nigerian International Financial Centre (NIFC). The NIFC will act as an international gateway for capital and investments, driven by technology and payment system infrastructure.’’

In Rwanda, current statistics show that even though there are still various challenges that continue to put women behind men when it comes to financial inclusion, the number of women who are currently banked have risen from 24% in 2016 to 34% in 2021.

This is according to a FinScope 2020 Gender thematic report on the state of women financial inclusion in Rwanda that was supported by Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR).

In one of the Focus Notes from Access to Finance Rwanda, farmers reported that women and men enjoy equal rights and treatment at specified two Financial institutions in the Focus note and therefore no special gender based treatment yet the outcomes of each groups are not equal.

At both Financial Institutions, women and youths are more likely to use loans to hire land farm as they lack access to land and they have been assisted by addressing some of the barriers that women and youth face in accessing loans.

The conference will therefore focus on how banking can be a service enjoyed by all Africans regardless of their financial strengths through making access to finance for development is an easy and smooth process.

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Business

400K Coffee Farmers To Adopt Cashless System

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About 400,000 coffee farmers in Rwanda are being targeted to embrace a cashless payment system facilitated by Bank of Kigali.

On Friday, Bank of Kigali through IKOFI integration with Smart Kungahara System (SKS) said it expected to serve more than 300 coffee washing stations, with a target market size of more than 400,000 coffee farmers.

“Through our partnership with RWACOF, we enabled coffee farmers to embrace cashless means of payment. We believe in digital transformation for everybody including farmers. These telephones will significantly help famers to adopt a more digital lifestyle,”said ⁦⁦Diane Karusisi the CEO Bank of Kigali.

According to BK, currently, 1,767 agro dealers and 263,691 farmers are active IKOFI wallet users benefiting from the service by digitally paying for their agro-inputs through mobile phones, conveniently paying for other services such as Irembo, RRA, WASAC, all done through *334*2#.

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