East-Rwanda: New solar-powered irrigation scheme for youth farmers

[Modified]: By Elias Hakizimana.

Straton Dusengimana is a vegetable farmer in Rukumberi Sector, Ngoma District. His passion for farming dates back to a time he was a young man, but dependence on seasonal rains in a drought-prone area always created a grave challenge.  Worse still, the near-by Akagera River did not offer a lot due to lack of a cost-effective irrigation system, hence hampering crop productivity.

All this is set to change with the introduction of solar-powered irrigation system being constructed by Hinga Weze with funding from USAID. The irrigation scheme is composed of a solar pumping system, water reservoir, pipeline and fittings.

The Beneficiaries are members of a youth cooperative called ‘Twigire Muhinzi’ that mainly grows fruits and vegetables including watermelon, cabbages, tomatoes, onions, beetroots and butternuts on 2 hectares.  “TWIGIRE MUHINZI” is made of 34 members and 12 of them are women.

“We used to hire generators that were expensive and they increased losses. We have been cultivating on only 2 hectares but now we will be able to cultivate on 10 hectares. With the input of quality seeds and fertilizers from Hinga Weze, we expect harvesting enough for the market and for the households,” observed Straton who is also the Chairman of TWIGIRE MUHINZI.

Employees at the irrigation scheme are working hard to inaugurate it by early June 2019.

The scheme that is sponsored by USAID through Hinga Weze is putting last touches on the water reservoir that will contain 600 cubic meters to be used in irrigation.

Straton told The Inspirer that they used to experience losses as the entire plantation could be withered due to drought.

“It was not easy to get produce due to drought. Now we thank Hinga Weze for setting up these irrigation infrastructures. We hope to increase the produce as water will be closer to farms,” Dusengimana said. The farmers will also be able to plant crops all year round since water will be available to irrigate their farms even during seasons.

Hinga Weze has already linked the farmers to buyers, hence creating a ready market for the surplus produce.

Straton Dusengimana, Chairman of ‘Twigire Muhinzi’ cooperative

Emmanuel Hagenimana, the District Manager for Hinga Weze in Ngoma District, said that the scheme will be officially inaugurated early June this year to coincide with the Agriculture Season C that is mainly for horticulture.

Explaining the reason for setting up the irrigation scheme, Emmanuel said that this was a response to the devastating effects of drought on crops around the area. “We needed a solution that is user-friendly for the farmers, but also durable,” he observed in reference to the choice of constructing solar-powered pumping system.

Commenting on the scheme, Innocent Mudahemuka, Director of Agriculture in Ngoma District, said that the irrigation site is a timely venture given that the area did not have enough for the farmers. “We had only one irrigation project of 265 hectares in the entire district, so we are happy that this site is going to help more farmers to produce more.

“This area has poor rainfall. We need much water to irrigate the soil. This is an opportunity for us and we request residents to take good care of these infrastructures,” Mudahemuka said.

Narcisse Ndagijimana, the Regional Manager of Hinga Weze, also said that the same project is being implemented in five districts of Rwanda including Ngoma, Bugesera, Gatsibo, Kayonza with a financial value of over Rwf 300 million.

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.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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