A total of $37 million has been allocated for the second phase of the Rural Sector Support Project [RSSP] that will run for the next four years to consolidate the transformation of the first phase of the project.
RSSP 2 was officially launched at Prime Holdings in Kimihurura, Gasabo district, on Thursday by Christophe Bazivamo, the Minister of Agriculture and Resources.
The project, funded by the World Bank, was initiated by the government of Rwanda in 2001 to boost agriculture production at the grass root levels.
According to Jolly Dusabe, the Project Coordinator, the first phase which lasted eight years was allocated Frw49 million to cover capacity building, rehabilitation of marshland, distribution of loans and construction of infrastructure to facilitate access to markets.
Among the achievements of RSSP1, Dusabe said that 3,110 hectares of marshland were rehabilitated exceeding the 2,000 target providing 25,528 households with land for cultivation.
With the government’s objective of unlocking rural growth to increase incomes and reduce poverty, value adding infrastructure constructed included 23 markets, 24 bridges, 48 kilometers of road, 71 storages and 125 drying areas.
RSSP is a strategy introduced by the government to fight poverty in connection with the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy [EDPRS]. It is the biggest World Bank funded project in Rwanda and covers the whole country.
Bazivamo commended the achievements of RSSP1 and said that RSSP2 which will be a continuation and “will focus on two major components that include marshlands and hillsides rehabilitation and strengthening commodity chains.”
He said that the second phase will be directed at consolidating the achievements of RSSF1 by, “financing investments in improving productivity of farming systems on hillsides associated with marshland irrigation schemes” and “Farmers on hillsides will also be organized and trained on promotion of cost effective soil and water conservation techniques.”
Bazivamo was optimistic that by the end of the second phase, “at least 50 percent of the farmers should have adopted sustainable marshland and hillside intensification technologies and production of rice will have increased by 100 percent.”
Victoria Kwakwa, the World Bank representative, appreciated the work done in the first phase and reiterated the donor organization’s commitment to work closely with Rwanda. But she challenged that the four year interventions be completed in a shorter time.
The second phase is scheduled to end in 2012 and a final phase to last five years will focus on promoting diversification of economic activities in rural areas as a way of increasing and stabilizing rural incomes.