The Ministry of Agriculture (Minagri), in partnership with Energy 4 Impact, has unveiled a solar powered irrigation system in districts most affected by dry spells.
The project will serve farmers in Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Ngoma, Kirehe and Bugesera districts in Eastern Province and Gisagara, Kamonyi and Muhanga in Southern Province. The equipment will be subsidised 50 per cent.
Over 13,000 farmers will access the irrigation systems for over five years, ultimately benefiting an estimated population of over 65,000.
Launching the project in Kigali on Wednesday, Charles Murekezi, the Director General of Agriculture Development at Minagri, urged solar irrigation service providers to try to reduce the price of irrigation equipment.
He suggested that although the equipment was cheaper in the long run, if some were produced locally, it could lower the price significantly.
According to Murekezi, currently the country’s irrigation scope is only eight per cent of irrigable land, which is also the land that feeds the country with vegetables during season C (June, July and August) but there are plans to push it to 17 percent by 2024.
Hudson Micomyiza, the head of the Land Husbandry, Irrigation and Mechanisation Department at Minagri, said that of the 6000 hectares of irrigated land, only 55 hectares are irrigated by solar power.
He attributed the low percentage to the fact that the price of solar power equipment is more expensive than fuel pumps.
Espoir Serugo, the Agriculture Project Manager at Energy 4 Impact Rwanda, said that, through the Solar Irrigation in Rwanda (SIR) project, they were designing financial mechanisms to increase affordability of small-scale solar irrigation technologies.