- Likely floods push farmers to harvest early in Rukumberi sector
By Elias Hakizimana.
It is about 12 pm in Rukumberi Sector, farmers are all lined up heading up from the Akagera Marshaland that surrounds the sector. Their load is produce freshly harvested from their farms. Their yield is ready for harvest but the farmers are also a bit in a rush to beat the likely floods —it is a rainy season and floods may break River Akagera banks.
Luckily, farmers recorded a good yield compared to last season that got destroyed by drought.
Straton Mugenzi is one of farmers who has faced the best and worst in farming. A few seasons back, he used to harvest a few bags of produce due to the bad weather and lack of affordable equipment to irrigate his farms. This was worsened by lack of knowledge on good farming practices like use of fertilisers, compost manure and planting in rows. But now the worst is over. Like most of his cooperative members, he is reaping big from a harvest of various crops including maize, vegetables and fruits.
“We grow maize, soya beans, sweet potatoes and cassavas in the marshland. We also grow Irish potatoes, beans and we have good yield this season,” he notes with a smile.
Mugenzi’s displeasure over the likely floods is obvious to notice, but its crowded out by the happiness over this season harvest that is likely to fetch high income.
His fellow farmer, Angelina Mukarwego, is equally excited. “We were lucky and got a solar-powered irrigation system from Hinga Weze. Now our harvest is good,” She noted.
Increasing farmers’ resilience to effects of climate change is one of the goals of Hinga Weze, a USAID-funded project that supports over 530,000 smallholder farmers in 10 districts. The project also supports farmers to sustainably increase their agricultural production, increase their income and improve the nutritional intake for women and children.
Another farmer supported by Hinga Weze is Sengabo Alexandre. He used to harvest 2 bags of beans worth $871 (Rwf797,838). With support from Hinga Weze to irrigate better, use fertilisers adequately and plant better varieties, he has now harvested 10 tons of watermelon worth $1,871 (Rwf1.7million). “I’m smiling my way to the bank, ” observes Alexandre with a note of excitement.
His friend Edward Muhizi is equally excited. “We have harvested beans and maize will soon be ready. We are soon harvesting pumpkins too,” said the farmer.
According to Rachel Uwingeneye, Agronomist of Rukumberi Sector, the citizens grow enough vegetables and fruits with a surplus for the market.
“In general, citizens get enough income because they sell part of the produce at the local market. A few years back, they used to lack where to sell, but now we have got partners, including Hinga Weze Project, that helped us access markets. This has increased our incomes and reduced post-harvest losses because most of the produce is sold off right from the farm,” Uwingeneye said.
Rukumberi sector is one of the sectors of Ngoma District that is currently exposed to drought and citizens are encouraged to irrigate their plantation.
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