The visiting World Bank Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, has hailed the progress made in improving agriculture in the country and pledged continuous support to the sector.
She was speaking in Nyabihu District yesterday hours after arriving in Rwanda for a three-day working visit.
She toured an agricultural demonstration project, one of the schemes the Bank supports in the country.
The agriculture demonstration project, which covers three administrative sectors, namely Rambura, Mulinga and Karago, is set to implement a comprehensive land husbandry programme in response to the steep slopes and high soil erosion in the area.
The total area is developed with land husbandry technologies.
So far, over 800 hectares out of 1,200 have been worked on under the project, dubbed ‘Land Husbandry, Water Harvesting and Hillside Irrigation Project’ (LWH).
A total of 5,758 households, comprising over 25,300 people of whom 46 per cent are women will benefit from the project.
In Nyabihu, Indrawati joined famers and government officials in Irish potato planting in Rambura sector.
She then witnessed the exhibition of farmers’ produce.
She noted that the World Bank was impressed by Rwanda’s development, particularly in agriculture which she described as an important sector in efforts toward ensuring food security and creating jobs.
“Rwanda has many hills which make it challenging for the land to be cultivated.
‘‘This programme will increase arable land, especially through terracing. We are also providing financial support for farmers to access market,” she said.
She noted that the support to modernise farming would help lift residents out of poverty while fighting food shortages as well as creating more employment.
“Before, they (farmers) had land but they could not cultivate it, thus low productivity.
‘‘Now they can have three or four times so they can definitely earn more income,” she said.
‘‘We do hope that the programme that the World Bank supports will address the issue of poverty and create employment in a sustainable way,’’ she added.
“Agriculture is very important in both creating food security and also in terms of employment. So supporting agriculture to create more productivity is to eradicate poverty, we will continue supporting this kind of programmes,” she said.
Beneficiaries of the project said they are already reaping from the programme, explaining that their produce had drastically increased since they started farming in terraces.
“We are grateful for the project, our produce was low before we trained in modern farming; erosion was rampant.
‘‘But since we started farming in terraces our produce has increased threefold and we are committed to boost it further,” said Jean d’Arc Niyonsenga, the president of Abihuje farmers cooperative.
Meanwhile, the World Bank official later toured Mutobo Demobilisation and Reintegration Centre where she interacted with former ex-combatants undergoing a reintegration course.
She hailed government efforts to demobilise and reintegrate former soldiers in society and pledged further support towards the programme.
The World Bank has supported Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission since 2001..