Farmers in Bugesera District, specifically in Mareba and Ruhuha Sectors, have expressed concerns over a weed infestation in a water reservoir that is crucial for rice farming in Gatare and Rwabikino marshlands. The weed, locally known as Umushabishabi, is growing rapidly, forming a dense layer measuring 60 centimeters deep in the reservoir, and impeding farmers' access to water for irrigation. Rice cultivation requires substantial amount of water but the rapid spread of Umushabishabi has led to a significant drop in water levels. ALSO READ: How-rwanda-is-faring-in-wetlands-restoration This grass absorbs water in a way that, if left un-addressed, can harm fish and other organisms in the dam, as well as pose a threat to rice farming. The weed obscures the water when it reaches the water level and inundates the land. If this water facility is not managed, it will dry up and adversely impact rice farming, said Herman Nzabonimpa, the president of Isoko Y'amajyambere, a cooperative managing water usage in Gatare-Rwabikino marshlands. Rice farmers told The New Times that the weed infestation began in 2022 when it infiltrated the dam sheet designed to store water for rice, fruits, and vegetable cultivation in the wetland. Alex Tuyisingize, a manager of the rice farmers' cooperative, explained, This weed cannot be seen at the water level because it is submerged up to 60 centimetres deep. If you carefully observe the water, you start to see its heads. Efforts are underway to find a solution to the problem, including attempts to manually remove the weed. However, due to its rapid growth and spread, the task is very challenging. ALSO READ: Bugesera-90-per-cent-of-wetlands-untapped-officials-urge-investment “We attempted to address the issue through cooperative means, investing Rwf 500,000, but containing the weed in the reservoir proved to be a formidable challenge for us,” added Tuyisingize. Farmers fear that if the weed persists, it could have long-term consequences for rice farming in Gatare and Rwabikino marshlands. They are actively seeking sustainable solutions to address the root cause of the problem and ensure a healthier ecosystem for both agriculture and the environment. The water dam, with a surface area of four hectares and a depth of four meters, overflows during heavy rain seasons. The dam serves 84 hectares of swamps operated by two cooperatives—Kotirawa and Twizamure—with more than 1,000 members. The potential scarcity of water would impact a significant number of people. Theophile Gatoya, the head of the Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, and Natural Resources in Bugesera District, told The New Times that a team from Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) visited the site and confirmed that if the weed is not addressed, it will affect future rice cultivation in the marshlands. ALSO READ: Over-4-of-rwandaas-wetlands-alost-their-pristine-naturea He noted that there are efforts to educate farmers on effective weed management techniques to prevent further spread but added that there are collaborative initiatives with RAB to implement a long-term solution for eradicating weeds from the marshlands. Bugesera District boasts the largest expanse of marshlands in the country, spanning over 20,000 hectares.