The Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) has rolled out a pilot project to give dairy farmers water tanks on credit as part of efforts to boost milk production in the country.
At the launch, last week, over 33 dairy farmers in Nyankeke Sector, Gicumbi District, received water tanks at a one per cent interest rate from Nyankeke Mfashankire saving and credit cooperative (Nyankenke SACCO).
Dr Alphonse Nshimiyimana, the director of animal production at RAB, said the project is aimed at ensuring that dairy farmers have water for their animals all the time.
“When a cow does not get enough water, it means that the quantity of milk reduces. As you get water tanks, we hope your cows will have enough water which I think will increase the quantity of milk you produce,” Dr Nshimiyimana said.
Alexandre Mvuyekure, the mayor of Gicumbi, challenged farmers to take advantage of the water tanks to improve their sanitation and feeding levels.
“It is better for you to have tanks to feed your cows with water, but you need to take advantage of the tanks to water kitchen gardens, especially during dry season,” Mvuyekure said.
“You need to include vegetables on your menu even in the dry season since you have got tanks to help you harvest rainwater that can take you along the dry season.”
Besides, I hope you will use the tanks to improve personal and general hygiene, he added.
Farmers welcome the project
Bernard Maniraguha, a farmer, said water had been among the most pressing challenges livestock farmers were facing.
“It takes about an hour to reach the nearest stream for water. I have been giving my cow one jerrycan per day yet it actually takes four. With this facility, I hope its milk production will increase from the current five to ten or more litres per day,” Maniraguha said.
Pascal Ntakirutimana, a dairy farmer in Yaramba Cell, said the water tank will not only help him to feed his cow but also his family.
François Karekezi said apart from feeding cows, his children will no longer miss school to fetch water for animals.
A farmer who needs a 2,500-litre tank must have Rwf7,000 saving in Nyankenke SACCO or Rwf13,000 for a farmer who needs a 5,000-litre tank.
One must be able to get Rwf15,000 per month from milk since payment will be done from milk sales.
The water tank loan project aims at improving dairy farmers’ access to water by making rainwater harvesting tanks more affordable.
A 25,000-litre tank is offered at Rwf175000 payable in 24 months while a 5000 liters tank is offered at Rwf32,000 payable in 24 or 36 months.
The project will be implemented by Rwanda Agriculture Board in partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab for Africa, a research centre at the economic department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Innovation for Poverty Action in collaboration with Afritank that will supply the tanks and provide farmers with training on installation.