Bugesera women farmers to tap into vegetable export market

Women harvest and supply vegetables to Nyamata market. / Michel Nkurunziza.

Women in agribusiness from Bugesera District are set to start exporting vegetables following the investment in irrigation enabling them produce outside the limitations of agricultural seasons.

Esperance Mukarwego is a farmer of amaranth near Lake Cyohoha in Mayange sector.

 

She said that she was previously manually watering the crops and with new investment in irrigation, she looks to double produce.

 

“I was using a watering can to irrigate my vegetables. While I was using 12 hours to finish watering the whole land, it will be taking less time by using solar-powered pumps. This will also increase the produce because water penetrates the ground easily,” she said.

 

Mukarwego has been harvesting 300 bundles of amaranth every day which she supplies to Nyamata Market.

One bundle of amaranth goes for Rwf50 making a total of Rwf15,000 per day.

“I have another land where I grow eggplants. We are going to even exploit season C and then export vegetables” she said.

Josiane Nyirabagwiza, another woman in agribusiness said that have been counting huge losses due to drought because they had no irrigation facilities.

“We have got an irrigation dam and we hope the produce will double,” she said.

According to Immaculee Nikuze, on a land with a potential of two sacks of maize and beans, she only harvested 20 Kilogrammes due to drought.

“The drought hit us in the past year and we left our homes seeking casual work since we had no longer food,” she said.

The women are part of a cooperative dubbed “Abanyamurava” composed of 73 members of whom 40 are women.

“We formed this cooperative so that we are able to make use of new irrigation facilities and we are now linked to vegetables exporters so that our produce easily gets access to the market,” she said.

The cooperative is currently planting vegetables on over 10 irrigated hectares following an installation of Rwf117 million irrigation dam with 500 cubic metres  and 54 solar panels providing 10 Kw  pumping water from the lake under the support of Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board and USAID-funded Hinga Weze project.

The cooperative is currently planting pepper; french beans, eggplants, amaranth and tomatoes for exporting.

Angelique Umwali, the Vice Mayor in charge of Economic Development in Bugesera District urged the women to make use of available irrigation facilities and increase agricultural productivity for the district.

However, she said that while there are irrigation projects, it is still a drop in the sea.

“This district is usually affected by drought and farmers are the most hit. Irrigation infrastructure is key in developing our people and saving for their future. However, even though our district has many lakes, many farmers have not been using irrigation. The district has only 2,000 hectares of land under irrigation. We continue to mobilize resources to increase irrigated land,” she said.

Currently, only an estimated 60,000 hectares are under irrigation out of the national irrigation potential of 600,000 hectares.

The country targets to have at least 102,000 hectares under irrigation by 2024

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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