For years, Olive Mukashema, a resident in Kigabiro Sector, Rwamagana District was growing rice in a traditional way due to fear of losing water for irrigation during dry season and insufficient skills on how she could tackle the issue. However, when Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2019 rolled out its project dubbed Water Management and Capacity Building in Rwanda (WAMCAB), Mukashema benefited from it. She said that through the training provided through WAMCAB, she has been able to shift from subsistence to commercial farmer and has been taught to preserve water for irrigation which increased her rice produce. “When this project came, I expanded my rice farm because I was able to get water for my crop all year round. I used to cultivate on half hectare but I have expanded to a full hectare. I have been able to build myself a house in Rwamagana city while I used to rent. Mukashema also revealed that she used to earn Rwf 1.2 million from her harvest, which was not enough investment for inputs during the next season but now, she harvests six tons on a hectare and earns Rwf 2.4 million after paying all expenses. The project involves the International Water Users Organisation (IWUO) which Mukashema belongs to. It is not only being implemented in Rwamagana but also in Ngoma and Gisagara districts. It is a 5-years project which started in March 2019 and will end in February 2024 is expected to cost over Rwf21 billiom. As part of it, the Cyaruhogo model site in Rwamagana district includes schemes in Bugugu, Cyimima, Gashara and Cyaruhogo marshlands where paddy rice is grown. The site includes Cyaruhogo Dam which is nine-metre deep, 301 metres wide and contains 58,000 cubic metres of water. Speaking after touring the site, Imai Masahiro, the Japanese Ambassador to Rwanda said that agriculture development is one of the four areas where the Japanese government is assisting Rwanda. “While we contribute to sustainable growth, poverty reduction and job creation, we can never overlook the importance of agriculture in the development and growth of Rwanda’s economy. We all agree that the key to development of the agriculture sector is improvement of productivity and profitability. It also contributes to poverty reduction,” he said. “In view of this, Japan provides a wide range of support, from construction of infrastructure such as irrigation facilities to technical cooperation for capacity strengthening in the area of irrigation scheme management, both of which were presented today.” He also added “WAMCAB showcases a good PPP model, which is quite innovative in Agriculture sector. The Project not only improves agricultural production, but motivates farmers and reduces the burden of local government.” According to Radjabu Mbonyumuvunyi, the Mayor of Rwamagana district, before the project, the marshlands in Rwamagana were being used inaptly, adding that there are some valley dams that were drying up due to reduction in water level. He noted that only 260 hectares were being cultivated in the four schemes in the district, adding that they have now increased to 340 and other farmers have also started cultivating vegetables alongside the valley. Courtesy of the project, the number of farmers have increased from less than 1000 to around 1300. They used to harvest 3.5 tons of rice on a hectare but, as we enhance irrigation activities and carry out regular follow-ups, we expect to harvest 7 tons on a hectare, he said. He noted that farmers no longer sell the rice only in the eastern area but also in other areas like Southern province where companies buy rice from Cyaruhogo which, to him, shows how the projects have led to increment of rice produce and employment of residents. He said that they plan to add a touristic space alongside the dam since it is near Rwamagana city where people can come and enjoy life. Theogene Zirimwabagabo who also farms at the Cyaruhogo marshland declared that he has expanded his farm from 10 acres to 20 acres and can now harvest around a ton of rice which puts Rwf 200,000 in his pocket. He said that he has built himself a house and can now pay school fees for his children. He thanked the WAMCAB project and IWUO for contributing to his development, adding that he seeks to earn Rwf500,000 per harvest by 2024.