Irrigation provides sprinkles of life for agriculture

Irrigation can en­sure optimal utiliza­tion of all cultivat­able land to produce enough food for nationals and surplus for interna­tional markets.

Walking on water: Sylvain Ndahayo’s business is booming since he introduced a simple irrigation mechanism. (photo Eric Didier Karinganire )

Walking on water: Sylvain Ndahayo’s business is booming since he introduced a simple irrigation mechanism. (photo Eric Didier Karinganire )

On a small hill of Bun­yogombe cell, Ruhango sector in Ruhango district lives Sylvain Ndahayo, a small-scale vegetables and fruits farmer.

He grows leeks, carrots, parsleys, onion and cab­bages throughout the year using harvested rain wa­ter. With a small machine connected to the pool of water through a pipe, Ndahayo is able to pump water to his garden. This father of two no longer waits for rain to plant his vegetables.

This is small-scale irri­gation that Ndahayo has practiced for a year and a half. He copied the idea from his neighbor that seen a big change in his life.

“Initially, I used fetch water for my crops from down the valley and I would be very exhausted at the end of the day. And for all that effort, I would get almost nothing as the yield was poor,” he said.

The skills that he had learned were supple­mented by material sup­port provided by the for­mer Rwanda Agricultural Development Authority, now under Rwanda Agri­culture Board.

The water pit that he built with the support of RADA has capacity to keep 125 cubic meters – the quantity that can help him irrigate his crops for three months during a dry season.

“Now I can use one hour irrigating my veg­etables and save the re­maining time for other activities.  I used to spend the whole time going to the well,” Ndahayo says.

Not only is Ndahayo now food secure, but also has a source of income.

With in a year and a half, had already paid back his Frw 300,000 loan that he took when setting up his shelter. He also bought a portion of land worth Frw 300,000 while he also plans to buy another one worth Frw 400,000 to ex­pand his activities.

He also has a project to set up biogas system electrification worth Frw 600,000 by the end of this year.

“Everybody now knows that I grow vegetables and they ask me to sup­ply them some quantity,” Ndahayo says. “This en­courages me and pushes me to do more that I can become a model farmer.”

His neighbor, Abel Nsengimana, also practic­es similar irrigation since 2007. He grows tomatoes and bananas.

For Nsengimana, there has been a big change in his life since he started using the small scale ir­rigation. “I was not get­ting any yield here, but now my production is ten times more than what I used to get,” says Nsen­gimana. He can now save around Frw 400,000 at the end of a season.

About 23,000 ha are now under irrigation country-wide. (Photo: Eric Didier Karinganire)

About 23,000 ha are now under irrigation country-wide. (Photo: Eric Didier Karinganire)

Ndahayo and Nsengi­mana’s achievements mir­ror government efforts to improve agriculture – the sector that employs more than 80 percent of Rwan­dans, through irrigation.

Irrigation has helped large maize farmers in eastern province. For in­stance, in Mpanga sector of Kirehe district, there is big maize farm on a consolidated land. There, constructions of infra­structure to facilitate ir­rigation on a large scale are ongoing. So far, three giant tanks and have been set up with pines to pump water.

Jean Claude Musaby­imana, a member of task force in charge of irriga­tion and mechanization, says that the project in Mpanga sector aims to manage 600ha. So far, 200 ha have been cov­ered while the whole proj­ect treatment, started in March of last year, will be complete by the end of this year. The project will cost of Frw 6 billion. The project will produce about 1,800 tons per sea­son with 200 families cul­tivating the area.

According to Musaby­imana, the irrigation proj­ect in Mpanga is part of the ministry’s initiative to expand basic infrastruc­ture necessary to irrigate hillsides and marshlands.

About 23,000 ha are now under irrigation country-wide with only­1000ha on hills.

“Our target is to achieve 100,000ha by 2017 from the starting point of 18,000ha we had in 2011,” Musabyimana points out.


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