It is Tuesday morning and dozens of farmers in Ndego are gathered at the Karambi trading centre in Kayonza District where they are attentively following farming lessons being provided by a non-governmental organisation. They are also receiving fertilisers and seeds ahead of the Season 2020B in February.
It is life as usual in Ndego, men are sitting in groups talking cheerfully and sharing local brew while others make their way back home from their farms; most of them carrying beans and sorghum produce they just harvested.
But it always hasn’t been this cheerful in this area.
The district has been characterised by drought for the last four years leaving most farmers worried and desperate. However, since September last year, things took for the better when the skies opened, ushering in the long sought after rain.
Felicien Gakwavu from Kagasa Village in Karambi Cell owns one hectare of land and says that he is part of the group getting lessons from the NGO to enable him to begin practicing modern agriculture.
“It has been very hard in the last few years. The drought brought us to our knees. We have been dealing with hunger for a while. Considering how the season was, this rain has lifted our spirits and we hope that the upcoming season will be good too,” he
Belancilla Mukankusi is also a farmer who says that it had been long since she had harvested anything from her farm, something that she said made her fail to feed her grandchildren.
“Those with energy used to go to markets in Kabarondo, or Murindi (in Kirehe District) to look for food. A kilo of maize was Rwf500, but such an amount of money was hard to get,” she says.
Jean-Bosco Mpagazehe, another farmer, says that before this rainy season, it had been about five years since he had had a glimpse of rain.
Mpagazehe said that before this season, it was hard to find people sitting together in the trading center because they were all forced to go elsewhere to seek work.
“We plant and wait for the weather to do miracles. When there is drought, it is our loss, and when it rains, it is our blessing. Most of us had moved to Gatsibo and Nyagatare districts but today, people prefer to come to Ndego instead,” Mpagazehe said.
In the meantime, the needy families went to the sector to receive food support from the government.
Recently, the government ratified an irrigation1 project that will cover around 2,000 hectares in eight sectors of Kayonza District, including Ndego.
Kayonza District Mayor Jean-Claude Murenzi, told Sunday Times that activities on this project have started,
“Currently, we are in the initial stages of staff recruitment, and other basic undertakings before the project kicks off,” he says.
Ndego is inhabited by about 21,000 people, over 90 per cent of them farmers.
Formerly part of Akagera National Park, it is home to lakes, namely Ihema, Rwakibare, Nasho and Kagese and a variety of natural savannah trees. However, the area was environmentally affected due to overexploitation of the trees for charcoal.Follow JDNsabimana