The first phase of the Gabiro Agribusiness Hub Project (GAHP) in Eastern Province has received a boost thanks to a deal signed between the Government of Rwanda and Netafim – an Israeli irrigation technology firm.
The joint venture was signed on Monday between Netafirm and Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
During the first phase, approximately $66.5 million (approximately Rwf60bn) will be invested in the project over a period of 18 months to develop 5,600 hectares, according to a statement from RDB.
Overall, the GAHP aims to create a holistic and commercial agricultural ecosystem by developing modern value chain over an area of approximately 15,600 hectares of arable land with advanced water infrastructure, cutting-edge irrigation systems, high-value agro-processing operations and other agricultural technology activities across the value chain.
The project brings relief to the communities in Rwanda’s Eastern Province which has been prone to drought effects adversely affecting food security in the region.
The project that includes the development of the infrastructure for a commercial farming in the area, was approved by the Cabinet Meeting held late January, 2019.
Experts in climate change issues and agriculture have argued that effective irrigation is the only way out for Eastern Province to produce food in a sustainable manner.
The GAHP will support the production of crops for local consumption (staple crops), export and agricultural value-added products such as pastes, powders, oils and beverages intended mostly for export.
It will also support local livestock especially in the community irrigation aspect of the project.
Speaking after the signing, the RDB Chief Executive Officer, Clare Akamanzi said that Netafim has skills in technologies such as drip irrigation and fertigation – a method of fertiliser application in which fertiliser is incorporated within the irrigation water by the drip system.
These innovative and efficient irrigation technologies, she said, will enable small farmers to increase crop production in addition to averting water scarcity, increasing productivity, incomes and household food security.
“This project will significantly enhance private sector investments in Rwanda's agricultural sector, mitigate the risks of climate change and food security, contribute to job creation, increase export of value-added products and enhance rural community development and livelihood,” Akamanzi is quoted in the statement.
About 50,000 hectares of farmland is irrigated in Rwanda, while the country targets to irrigate 102,284 hectares by 2024.