Bugesera farmers appeal for help after Rwf2bn disaster-induced loss

Farmers from Bugesera District who lost over Rwf2 billion within two years due to rain-induced disasters have called for immediate intervention to fast-track rehabilitation of dams that will tame floods that have been devastating their crops.

The losses were incurred between agricultural Season B in 2018 to season B in 2020.

 

Wenceslas Karasira, the president of CORIMU, a rice farmers’ cooperative said rice harvest from over 600 hectares in Rurambi marshland was lost in these periods.

 

“When it rained in March this year, Akagera River had an overflow and destroyed dams that were in place to control floods; consequently, our plantations were washed away. We were expecting to harvest over 3,000 tonnes of rice but nothing we harvested,” he explained.

 

He said that the lost harvest is worth over Rwf1 billion adding that they counted the same loss in 2018.

“We request the government to fast-track the rehabilitation of the dam so that we get a sustainable solution to control floods. In 2018, in agricultural season B we counted the same loss and because we had no insurance, we didn’t recoup even a coin,” he said.

He however said that things were slightly different this year because they had insured their crops, but the compensation only covers the investment cost equivalent to Rwf192 million.

“This is far from what we expected to get from the harvest, because we were expecting worth over Rwf1 billion. That is why we need a sustainable solution,” he said.

He was speaking during an event to receive compensation for the affected insured crops from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animals Resources in partnership with insurance companies.

The government subsidizes 40 percent of insurance cost and the rest is paid by farmers.

Ten farmers’ cooperatives in Bugesera District had in total paid Rwf15.8 million while the government injected Rwf10 million in subsidies to insure the investment they made in growing rice on 545 hectares.

In total, these cooperatives got Rwf225.8 million in compensation.

“Half of our rice plantations were washed away. We counted the same loss in the previous year. Some farmers had abandoned growing rice. Insurance is timely but we need a sustainable solution to control floods,” said Felicite Mukamusoni, another from the Ize-Mugema cooperative from the Marebo sector.

The cooperative had insured only 23 hectares.

Rehabilitation of dams to resume

Jean-Claude Musabyimana, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, said that contractors have been secured and they are about to resume works to rehabilitate infrastructure that controls floods.

He attributed the delays of the works on the Covid-19 outbreak which restricted many activities in the country, adding that there are other farmers in other parts of the country facing similar problems.

The disasters this year destroyed at least 3,117 hectares of crops across the country between January and April this year.

Musabyimana urged farmers to embrace insurance to minimize losses in case of disasters.

“Insurance will also enable them to get loans from banks. So far 18,000 hectares of crops are insured across the country,” he added.

Marc Rugenera, the Managing Director of Radiant Insurance Company, said that the company insured crops on about 900 hectares in Bugesera District.

“We also look at maize, pepper, French beans, domestic animals, and others,” he said.

So far over Rwf460 million have been compensated to farmers and livestock keepers.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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