A solar-powered irrigation scheme has been launched in Ngoma District in Rwanda’s Eastern Province. The project which covers 300 hectares, 265 hillside and 35 paddy, will promote climate resilient agriculture and sustainable production in the country’s drought-prone areas.
The $13 million irrigation scheme was built by the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) under a partnership agreement between the governments of Rwanda and Japan.
“We hope that this project will showcase the good quality of the irrigation project to Rwanda and contribute to reduction of poverty in Rwanda” JICA expert Takuji Tanaka said during a January 2016 tour of the scheme’s construction site.
Construction started in June 2015. The irrigation project which will be run by a solar power system will benefit more than 980 rice, vegetable and fruit farmers in Rurenge and Remera, easing their access to irrigation water and boosting their capacity to enhance yields and income.
It will also strengthen irrigation water users organizations; train on farming technology; and support the operation and maintenance of the facilities.
Fulgence Nsengiyumva, the Minister of State for Agriculture in Rwanda said that the scheme is part of a government programme to scale up irrigation across the country in a bid to cope with the effect of prolonged dry spells and ensure sustainable agriculture activities.
Rwanda’s agriculture sector employs more than 72 per cent of the population and contributes 33 per cent to the GDP. The government previously introduced small irrigation technologies, sprinkler, drip and rain-gun kits powered by portable diesel/petrol engines. It has also made efforts to promote rain-water harvesting using plastic and concrete tanks, treadle pump and dam sheet technologies.
The small irrigation equipment, targeted at smallholder farmers with between one hectare and 10 hectares, are subsidized by up to 50 per cent to enable them engage in sustainable agriculture practices to boost production.
The solar-powered irrigation scheme is one of the many projects that Japan contributes to for the development of Rwanda in line with Vision 2020 and the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS).