The budget allocated to Eastern Province should have provisions to address effects of climate change, such as drought; on food security by ensuring residents have enough food throughout the year.
The province has over the years, been hit by prolonged droughts.
Eastern Province has seven districts.
It had an overall budget of Rwf120 billion in the current fiscal year which comes to an end in June, 2019, but government allocated Rwf123.9 billion to the province for the next fiscal year.
Provincial Governor Fred Mufulukye and district leaders were in Parliament on Tuesday to explain to the parliamentary Standing Committee on National Budget and Patrimony how they intend to use their budget for next year.
“Among the key challenges we met during the implementation of the financial year 2018/2019, include low agricultural productivity due to climate change, especially in Kayonza, Kirehe and parts of Nyagatare and Bugesera districts,” Mufulukye told the lawmakers.
Among the mitigation factors that must be prioritised include irrigation.
MP Odette Uwamariya said that in the first phase of the government’s National Strategy for Transformation (NST), which is a seven-year programme that will come to an end in 2024, Rwanda wants to irrigate over 100,000 hectares, up from about 50,000 currently.
Uwamariya has previously been a governor of the province.
“You realise that the larger part of that land to be under irrigation will be in Eastern Province because it is the region which is easy to irrigate [thanks to its flat terrain],” she said.
She wanted a roadmap detailing the state of irrigation schemes in the province so that once MPs meet the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) officials, advocacy can be made in terms of increasing farm productivity.
In addition, she wanted to know the state of taking water closer to livestock farmers through constructing valley dams.
“If we don’t address this problem, we will not get the expected contribution of agriculture to the country’s economy as well to the farmers,” she said.
MP Théogène Munyangeyo said that the province should not be one to suffer due to shortage of rain since there is a lot of water resources the region is endowed with which they must tap into to ensure they have irrigated farmland all year round.
For five sectors of Kayonza District which face acute shortage of rain, Munyangeyo said, they have a potential for an effective irrigation system.
“For such rain-deprived sectors, we should turn the problem into a solution. For instance, if we develop an irrigation programme there, crops can thrive to good yields, making the area more productive as there is no rain that can destroy irrigation activities,” he said.
He said that milk production in the province is at about 20 percent of its production capacity, calling for efforts to grow suitable grass for improved cattle nutrition, as well as availability of enough water for animals.
Mufuluke said that there is a planned hillside irrigation installation on 2,770 hectares.
In addition, he added, 688 water motor pumps will be distributed among farmers for small-scale irrigation on more than 1,600 hectares in the province.
David Claudian Mushabe, the Nyagatare District Mayor, said that they were considering to build two valley dams to help meet farmers’ needs, but warned that one is estimated to cost Rwf150 million, which is a lot of money given district’s limited budgets.
“However, this is an issue that should be reexamined to see what support can be provided to us in this regard,” he said.
Meanwhile, the province says 163.88 kilometres of feeder roads will be constructed or rehabilitated in all the districts, while 15.3 kilometres of asphalt roads will be constructed in two districts – of which 5.3km will be in Rwamagana, and 10km in Nyagatare.