Agric ministry moves to contain drought effects on farming

A new irrigation subsidy scheme dubbed "Small Scale Irrigation Technology (SSIT)" is set to be rolled out across the country to increase farmers' output by reducing dependency on rain-fed farming.

A new irrigation subsidy scheme dubbed “Small Scale Irrigation Technology (SSIT)” is set to be rolled out across the country to increase farmers’ output by reducing dependency on rain-fed farming.

The scheme, that started in August this year, will be officially launched next week starting from Eastern Province which is more prone to drought, according to Innocent Nzeyimana, the head of irrigation and mechanisation task force, at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (Minagri).

He says the scheme is expected to reduce losses farmers incur due to drought by making irrigation services more accessible and affordable.

“The SSIT approach does not require complex pump stations. It is easily portable and has helped reduce costs per hectare, making it attractive to individual farmers. It costs $1,500 (about Rwf800, 000) per hectare while the complex one costs between $10,000 and $15,000 (about Rwf8 million) per hectare,” Nzeyimana said.

The subsidy will vary depending on the farmer’s status and profitability of the project.

Nzeyimana said the scheme will help increase the turnover of farmers, especially for beans and maize growers.

The system includes ready to use 1ha, 5ha, and 10ha complete sprinkler, drip and rain-gun kits with portable diesel/petrol pump-units and pipes as well as rain-water harvesting through tanks (plastic and concrete), treadle pump and dam sheet technologies.

Nzeyimana said at least four interested companies with experience in irrigation development will supply the materials and ensure maintenance over a period of one year warranty.

Procedure

To qualify for the subsidy, farmers apply and are endorsed by the district.

The service providers submit applications for approval to Minagri which then endorses the payments from guarantee funds managed by an accredited financial institution.

The ministry plans to operate a subsidy account with one or more financial institutions to facilitate subsidy payments to the SSIT provider.

The process will be such that when an application has been approved, the ministry purchase order to the value of the subsidy will be issued to the SSIT provider that will be obliged to install the SSIT with a warranty and then redeem the subsidy (up to 50 per cent) from the financial institution using the purchase order.

The ministry has approached financial institutions interested in providing loans.

The subsidy rate shows that the highest is 50 per cent to the very poor, and then 37.5 per cent to the poor, 25 per cent to middle income earners and 20 per cent to the rich.

With these categories unable to approach financial institutions, the ministry will mobilise local and international NGOs willing to support for the remaining 50 per cent of investment.

Since the inception of the programme three months ago, applications totaling an area of 3,000 Ha have been received by the task force exceeding the target of 2,000 hectares per year.

Farmers upbeat

Several farmers have welcomed the scheme saying it is timely.

“I almost harvested nothing in August due to unreliable rainfall,” said Drocelle Mukeshimana, from Kayonza District.

Jean Nzahayo, a member of a maize cooperative in Masaka, said they registered poor yields in the last two years due to drought. He says they expect good yields as they have already submitted their project proposal for subsidies.

Emmanuel Byiringiro, another farmer, from Musanze District, said they gain nothing between June and August as potatoes grown from May are subjected to drought for several months.

The irrigation master plan indicates that 589 hectares of Potential Irrigated Areas ( PIAs) are to be irrigated of which 220 hectares are wetlands.

The government is targeting to irrigate 100,000 hectares by 2017 from the current 30,000 hectares.

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