Agriculture in Rwanda is getting a new lease of life with support pledged from the World Bank.
Officials of the Bank, in charge of Agriculture and rural development were in the country recently for a tour to acclimatize themselves with the agriculture sector in the country with view of aiding farmers.
With several visits of agricultural activities in the country which are supported mostly by the Rural Sector Support Project (RSSP), which is funded by World Bank, Karen Brooks, the Sector Manager, World Bank, Agricultural and Rural.
Development based in Washington, expressed satisfaction with what the government of Rwanda and the Rural Sector Support Project are doing for rural farmers, thereby pledging more support to the sector.
“I have come to Rwanda to see what we are supporting and what the Rural Sector Support Project is doing. We are delighted to work with the government of Rwanda and the Rural Sector Support Project,” Brooks said.
Brooks says the main purpose of their visit is to better understand the programmes in Rwanda so that when they go back to Washington, they can support them.
She says, “I think Rwandan farmers have gained quite a lot from the first phase of the RSSP. We are now in the process of moving to the second phase and so many additional farmers will benefit.”
After Brooks visit to the famous Kibaya-Cyunzuzi swamp which was reclaimed by RSSP, where rice is grown in abundance, she said: “We have seen some rice growers who are working on rehabilitated rice fields and they are achieving yields of approximately six tons per hectare which is excellent and this is much better than they were achieving in the past.”
While visiting Moringa Growers Cooperative in Remera Sector, Ngoma District, Brooks said, “Moringa plants have fascinating products. It is a new plant to me. I didn’t know much about it in the past and I have learnt so much about it.
I am very excited to know about all the excellent products of this plant. It has nutritional and medicinal properties and so it looks like it could have a very good market. I am so pleased to learn that RSSP is working with Moringa Growers Cooperative.”
Moses Mitali, the Director General of Moringa Cooperative Growers says that they have been telling Rwandans how Moringa is a miracle tree, but some could not believe it. Now he is happy to learn that people have started to learn the usefulness of Moringa from local experience.”
Michael Morris, World Bank Task Team Leader who is in charge of supporting the RSSP said that what makes him particularly happy is to see how successful the project that coordinates the unit has been in RSSP.
He attributed the success to the dedicated staff of RSSP, professional agriculturalists and engineers, community development specialists and the farmers especially members of cooperatives.
Morris has a message for Moringa farmers though. He observed that the farmers’ first challenge in Rwanda is to worry more about food and food security, but that this is not going to be enough in the long run.
There is need to move into economic activities based on agriculture but farmers can also diversify their income sources and have a higher level of income, says Morris.
Morris gives an example of where farmers can develop entrepreneurship skills, develop regional ideas and try to experiment and develop economic activities in new crops that can allow farmers to diversify away from the kind of activities they have been involved in before, thereby raising their income levels.
Geraldine Mukeshimana, coordinator for Rwanda Rural Sector Support Project (RSSP) said RSSP is evaluating what has been achieved in the first phase and by doing so; they (RSSP) will prepare the financing of the second phase.
During the tour, World Bank officials also visited Cooperative Inkingi Muhazi (COPIMU), which is famous for tomato growing under the help of RSSP.
According to Evariste Gatera, President of this cooperative, there are still many challenges for instance lack of skills to grow tomatoes properly.
“We need more sensitization”, he told the visitors.