During the heavy rains that ravaged many parts of the country in April this year, streams leading into Mugogo Marshland, a valley in Musanze District, burst around its banks, destroying plantations grown in the marshland.
Joseph Nsengiyumva is one of the 395 farmers whose crops were washed away when the 90-hectare marshland was completely submerged during the rains.
“It all happened unexpectedly and everything was lost, just like that,” he said.
“It was not just farms; our houses were also destroyed; because the floods were all over the place,” says Faustin Ntakanenimana, another farmer.
Activities to rehabilitate Mugogo started in May. Today, 114 tonnes of potato seeds have been planted on nearly 50 hectares.
Like the other farmers, Nsengiyumva, who lost his plantations of maize and beans worth about Rwf1 million, got seeds from government in compensation for his loss.
Some farmers are still preparing the field, with hope of getting seeds when their farms are read for Agriculture Season A.
Although the rain season has started, farmers are optimistic, in part because Rwanda Meteorology Agency has predicted minimal rainfall.
“We are told that there will be moderate rains. I was given 1.2 tonnes of seeds. If all goes well, I may harvest between 10 and 15 tonnes of Irish potatoes,” Nsengiyumva said.
For Ntakanenimana, he’s confident because there have been works to expand the banks of the streams, which is likely to make their crops less vulnerable to floods.
“Also, the water channels have been cleared that take in the water are regularly cleared,” he added.
The rehabilitation of Mugogo Marshland which has been implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Musanze District and Reserve Force, cost a budget of Rwf300m.
Musanze District authorities say the activities to make the marshland more resilient to climate change will continue, but farmers need to also make their contribution, through their cooperative.
“The farmers should not always wait for government to clear the streams. We are working with their cooperative to see how they can start saving after harvest, in order to have a sustainable solution,” said Andrew Mpuhwe the district vice mayor in charge of Economic Development.
He added that after some time, the activities to rehabilitate the marshland will be handed over to the local community.
Apart from farmers, families whose houses were destroyed are building new ones with government support, while others have been given new plots far from the wetland to erect new houses.