By Elias Hakizimana.
Irish potato farmers in Ngororero District in Muhanda Sector used to experience low production of Irish potatoes due to erosion that washes away the soil and fertilizers, but the bad side has turned to the best.
“Before, I use to harvest 3 to 4 tonnes per hectare and now the produce increased to 10 to 12 tonnes per hectare with terracing systems and fertilizers. We had knowledge gap about farming, Hinga Weze gave us agronomists to train us and cultivating on terraces that keep fertilizers in the soil. The rain used to take out all fertilizers that also affected the production,” said Enias Hangiyaremye, from Kavumu sector in Tetero cell.
He cultivates Irish potatoes on 2 hectares of land and testifies that the produce has improved in terms of both the quality and quantity only in seven months working with Hinga weze.
“The produce tripled in this season. We hope to increase further in coming days between 15 to 20 tonnes per hectare,” he said.
Beatha Nyirandikubwimana, a farmer from Mashya cell in Muhanda sector also benefited from Hinga Weze Agro-inputs of vegetable seeds which has improved nutrition status.
“We appreciate the terraces and how were trained on applying them. we used to lose alomost the entire production of Irish potatoes as erosion used to wash away the soil,” she noted.
The Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze Activity is a five-year, $32.6 million USAID-funded project that aims to sustainably increase smallholder farmers’ income, improve the nutritional status of women and children, and increase the resilience of Rwanda’s agricultural and food systems to a changing climate.
Daniel Gies, Chief of Party at Hinga Weze said that the new terraces were created to help farmers improve on the production.
“Hinga Weze is working in partnership with many people to create these new terraces upon which they harvest many tonnes of Irish potatoes. This is completely new production of Irish potatoes in this area and they have very good income for the farmers,” He said.
He said that farmers got to learn new techniques on how to plant on lines, how to use fertilizers and how to use improved seeds.
“We started these activities here in 2008 by training farmers, terracing and digging started in July and finished in October,” Gies said.
In the same line of celebrating Hinga Weze achievements, the delegation of visiting Board of Directors of CNFA that leads a consortium implementing the program also toured a youth cooperation in Ngoma-KODUIBI that is engaged in vegetation farming.
The youth group is receiving support to set up irrigation equipment to improve productivity.
The delegation also made a tour of SPF Ikigega, an Irish Potato aggregator supported by Hinga Weze in Northern Province.
Commenting on the initiatives, Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, the Governor of the Northern Province said :”This is a very productive region and we are glad that partners like Hinga Weze are supporting our communities to make use of this potential”
SPF-Ikigega is one of the facilities toured by a visiting Board of Directors of CNFA that leads a consortium implementing Hinga Weze.
USAID/ Feed the Future 5-year program aims to sustainably increase productivity and incomes for 560,000 smallholder farmers and improve nutritional intake for women and children across 10 districts.
They also visited farmers in Ngororero District who are now cultivating Irish potatoes on 4000hectares of terraced land. The scheme is supporting about 380 families.
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