Adoption of modern farming through farmers groups has improved farmers’ yields in Rwamagana District, according to various accounts on the impact of an agriculture training centre in the area that was officially inaugurated recently.
According to local farmers, many of them have moved from the traditional subsistence to modern farming methods, which involve fertiliser application, with benefits seen trickling through already.
The farmers receive training at KIA-Merry Year International Greenlight Project Agriculture Training Centre in Gahengeri Sector.
The sector has 34 groups benefiting from the project, with each comprising of over 20 members.
Currently, the farmers are focusing on modern maize farming.
Rwamagana District allocated 26 hectares to the groups of maize farmers who are trained at the centre, according to the mayor, Rajab Mbonyumuvunyi.
He notes that the training centre holds a lot of promise for farming, which is a source of income for the majority of the district’s population.
Mbonyumuvunyi said, previously, farmers practiced traditional farming, but that this was on course to change for the better.
“The centre provides what was mostly needed in agriculture sector as it is a school for professional farming,” he said.
“Farmers will also be provided with seeds and fertilisers. The project is timely; this is what farmers were missing,” said Mbonyumuvunyi.
The mayor said that growing crops more professionally will increase the produce, generate more income, and improve livelihoods.
“Many people believe that farming is a simple activity to be done by anybody, but this belief is totally wrong, because farming requires modern techniques. If you do not use them, your harvest will be poor,” he said.
Besides trainings, farmers also get quality seeds and fertilisers under the project. The project also provides market for the produce at competitive prices.
The construction of the centre is the first phase of the five-year project that will cost $1 million (Rwf854,700,855m).
The first phase is estimated to cost about $150,000 (Rwf128,205,128,), sponsored by Merry Year International, a Korean-based organisation that supports development in rural areas across the globe.
Merry Year International has been working in Rwamagana since 2014, with the goal of enhancing crop productivity, strengthening its market competitiveness, and growing income for farmers in the area.
Initially, farmers were not using quality inputs, but their fortunes have improved since they adopted modern farming.
Collette Mukamanzi, a farmer in Gahengeri, said the centre is an effective channel for conducting awareness on modern farming.
“Despite the fact that I have a small piece of land, I now use it more productively. I harvest more than 200kg from this small piece of land,” said Mukamanzi.
“Now that we are in farming groups, it is easier to get trainings and receive seeds and fertilisers,” she added.
Emmanuel Nteziryayo, another farmer, said they have received more knowledge about maize farming since the training started.
Nteziryayo said they learn in groups, and later go to every member’s farm to practise.
He added that it is easier for everyone to learn and improve techniques after practicing at every member’s farm.
Nteziryayo said he used to harvest between 200kg and 300kg of maize from a quarter of a hectare of land but now he harvests around 1,000kg from the same area.
The training centre also helps in training farmers in post-harvest handling.
Farmers say post-harvest handling was previously a big challenge to many of them.
“Maize grain easily gets spoilt if not well treated after harvest. But now, working as groups, we are able to access hangers from the training centre to store the maize after harvest,” said Nteziryayo.
He added that the trainings have also enhanced cooperation among members and taught them self-sufficiency.
Kye-Hwan Roh, a representative of KIA Motors who funded the project through Merry Year International, said their wish is to provide new hope to farmers.
“I believe this centre will have a positive impact on locals in Rwamagana,” he said.
KIA motors also provided vehicles to ease transport of produce for farmers supported by the project.
The Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Rwanda, Kim Eung Joong, said the intervention is a result of good cooperation between the two countries.