Tackling Soil Erosion: Agriculture Minister’s Parliamentary Presentation

The Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Ildephonse Musafiri, is set to address the Lower House’s plenary sitting, responding to inquiries concerning the detrimental effects of soil erosion on crop yields across the country.

Lawmakers identified the pressing issue of soil erosion, as well as concerns related to the utilization of terraces to enhance agricultural productivity on hill slopes, during their nationwide tours. In August, legislators expressed worry that over one million hectares of land were at a high risk of soil erosion.

In response, the parliament summoned the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources to provide insights into strategies for erosion control, the expansion of terrace initiatives, and optimizing crop production within existing terraced regions.

According to the “State of Soil Erosion Control in Rwanda” report from May 2022, more than 745,000 hectares of agricultural land in Rwanda are potentially eroded each year. This report was a collaborative effort between the Rwanda Water Resources Board (RWB) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Using data from the 2021 farming season A, the report revealed that over three million tonnes of crop produce are estimated to be lost seasonally (equating to 6 million tonnes annually) due to severe erosion, including 22,000 tonnes of maize and 15,000 tonnes of other crops.

The report estimated that the crop productivity lost to severe erosion in Rwanda translated to a financial loss of about Rwf37.9 billion, equivalent to 5.5 percent of the Rwf690 billion contribution of the agricultural sector to Rwanda’s GDP in the first quarter of 2021.

Soil erosion poses a significant challenge by depleting the topsoil, which contains vital nutrients essential for agriculture.