The government and the African Development Bank (AfDB), yesterday, signed a grant agreement worth $23 million (Rwf13bn) to finance the Bugesera Natural Regional Rural Infrastructure Project.
The project is expected to start early next year (2010) and will be implemented over a period of six years.
This will be done through the government’s existing Bugesera Agricultural Development Support Project Implementation unit.
The project will put in place irrigation schemes and also facilitate the purchase of fertilizers to boost agriculture production in this region that has for years been hampered by prolonged droughts.
“Sustained economic growth and poverty reduction relies on continued investment in agriculture. It plays a major role to growth, which is necessary to reduce poverty and ensure food security,” said Finance Minister, James Musoni, at the signing ceremony held at the Ministry of Finance.
“We cannot reach our EDPRS and Vision 2020 objectives without a strong agricultural sector,” he said, pointing out that the share of agriculture in Rwanda currently represents 37 percent of total national production.
In his remarks, Diko Mukete, the Resident Representative of AfDB noted that the Bugesera region has been suffering from food insecurity for many years due to rapid population growth and declining agricultural output.
Mukete attributed this decline to soil erosion, silting of lakes and climate change, in particular irregular and insufficient rainfall in recent years.
“This will help improve food security in the Bugesera area by building irrigation infrastructure, rehabilitating rural access roads and setting up storage facilities.”
The project will also facilitate protection of the lakes and marshlands, conserving water and soil to protect the ecosystem of the zone, in addition to supporting the development of farmers’ cooperatives.
Mukete also mentioned that neighboring Burundi will also benefit from nearly the same amount of funding from the total grant of $46 million.
“The activities of the project will be implemented concurrently in both countries to ensure maximum impact in terms of the conservation of the Nile basin ecosystems and the shared water.”
Both countries have already signed an agreement to implement the project, especially around the two major cross-border lakes (Rweru and Cyohoha) and the Akanyaru marshland.