By Thomas Kagera
The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) has expended vast resourc-es and efforts, crafted a number of initiatives, programmes and projects to support farmers, enabling them improve agricultural production levels, create nutritional and food security, raise household incomes and generally improve the livelihoods.
One such initiative that has immensely supported improvement of agricultural productivi-ty and poverty reduction is the Rural Sector Support Program (RSSP), funded by the World Bank since 2001. This program which operatives in most of the Districts has been very suc-cessful is now in the third phase of implementation to be completed in 2018.
Another program is the Land-Husbandry, Water-Harvesting and Hillside Irrigation (LWH), a government of Rwanda project initiated in 2009, (began June 2010, and expected to close in 2017) implemented in 15 districts, funded through a basket funding of Government of Rwanda, World Bank, Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), USAID and CIDA, to increase agricultural productivity and commercialization on the hillsides of Rwanda.
The two programs (LWH/RSSP) are implemented under the MINAGRI Single Projects Im-plementation Unit (SPIU)
Improving livelihoods is at the core of the crafted programs. “The focus of these programs is rural transformation through sustainable increase of agricultural productivity. The RSSP program known for marshland development and rehabilitation is very instrumental in supporting increase of yields and household incomes especially for rice farmers. LWH program is a very comprehensive program that focuses on sustainable land management, hillside irrigation while ensuring professionalization and linkages to financial institutions for farmers in the areas of intervention,” explains Dusabe Jolly the LWH/RSSP/SPIU Co-ordinator.
Irrigation: A sure way of ensuring reliable supply of agricultural products
Rwanda has a potential of 58,973ha of irrigation land of which 63% is on the hillside and 37% in the valleys including marshlands. While marshland development started a few years ago, hillside irrigation has been insignificant in Rwanda, currently at less than 0.8%. Crop production is therefore severely affected both in terms of quality and quantity for lack of water during the dry season.
The two projects have therefore focused on ensuring increased area under irrigation— for marshland to increase rice production in the country and for hillside to increase productivity of high value crops for which Rwanda has comparative advantage.