A farmer standing beside one of 600 hectors being irrigated in Matimba and
Matimba and Musheri sector residents in Nyagatare district have hailed the government support of irrigation project set up to improve their agriculture output.
As a way of maintaining constant annual agricultural production, the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI), through ‘Government Funded Irrigation’ programme, allocated Rwf5billion for construction of irrigation canals in Matimba and Musheri sectors of Nyagatare district.
According to officials from the Ministry, the new project currently boosts farmers’ produce in the most drought hit sectors of the district.
In 2010, over 4000 hectares of maize perished in Nyagatare district due to severe drought that hit the biggest part of Eastern province, causing farmers to lose thousands of tons of maize.
In a recent interview, Oswald Shyirambere, an agronomist in the Ministry said that the new ‘Government Funded Irrigation programme will facilitate farmers to harvest at a projected quantity without relying much on climate changes.
“We expect farmers to use the new irrigation system beginning from 2012-2013 farming season. With the new project, farmers will confidently produce their projected quantity of production unlike seasonal changes,” he said.
The already fully completed site, located in Rwentanga cell in Matimba sector, currently supplies irrigation canals, water pumping machines and feeder roads constructed to over 400hectares of land in two sectors before being extended to entire district.
Jules Mporana, an official in the Ministry’s department of irrigation and modern farming said that the project is being implemented in collaboration with UNITECH, a South African company.
“This is a durable project that is expected to last for over 20 years facilitating farmers in irrigation activities. But we remind beneficiaries to take good use of some irrigation machines since we have our technician working with them on a daily basis. We do this because such a project takes a big part of the national budget,” he said.
As part of preparations to maintain good use of the project, farmers formed ‘Water Users Associations’ that mainly comprised of farmers’ cooperatives.
In an interview, farmers welcomed the new project.
“To be honest, I lost over 15tonnes of maize production in 2010 due to dry spell that always hit our sector. The new project is timely as it rolls back our tears due to constant loss we have been making. We are optimistic that this project will boost our production,” said Emmanuel Ndayambaje, a farmer in Matimba sector.
At his maize plantation farm, Jane Uwantege testified how the project has impacted their production.
“I am growing maize on five hectares here. But as you can see, our plantations are well irrigated and we expect bumper this season since we no longer worry of dry spell,” she said.
The first phase, according to technicians at the site, extension works are being done near Kagitumba border to irrigate more 600 hectares of land.
“It is a surprise to us that this irrigation project not only works in valleys but also works in upland farming,” hailed another Jermeni Mukankuranga.
Oswald Shyirambere said: “Farmers have been carrying out their activities in valleys and swamps during dry seasons…but this new project will even see upland farming being made during the dry spell.”
Charles Kamugisha, executive secretary of Musheri sector said that such projects are accorded value as they stabilize and increase the country’s economy.
“What we are required to do is to mobilize residents on the benefits of the project but mostly maintain its durability. This is something that is crucial to the country’s economy,” he said.
The Ministry’s Government Funded Project has been successful in Kirehe district where over 600hectares of maize are being irrigated.