At least 121 local agronomists will next week travel to Israel to undergo an 11-month internship programme in agricultural mechanization and irrigation at the Kinneret Academic College and Agrostudies Center in Israel.
The training will equip learners with skills in cattle keeping, milk value chain, sheep husbandry and poultry production for the animal production students; students with crop production background will learn about fruit-tree farming, vegetable growing and postharvest technologies, State Minister for agriculture and animal resources, Tony Nsanganira said.
Nsanganira noted that the acquired skills will help in the transformation of agriculture and enhanced production.
“We expect a lot from them towards the transformation of agriculture and export promotion,” Nsanganira told The New Times.
Over 150 local agro-experts have so far graduated from the centre, while 130 others are still undertaking the programme.
The Government is counting on such initiatives to boost productivity of agriculture and its contribution to the national economy.
For-example, government is targeting to increase exports to a tune of 28 per cent annually by 2018 under the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II).
Government seeks to achieve 8.5 per cent growth rate for the agriculture sector by 2018, from the current 7 per cent.
Overall, the sector contributed 33 per cent to the national economy during the first quarter of 2016, up from 31 per cent in the same period last year.
Therefore having agronomists acquiring modern skills in fields like irrigation and post-harvest handling courses especially in horticulture could greatly increase Rwanda’s potential to export in international markets, Claudine Musabyimana, the chairperson, Indangamirwa Farmers’ Cooperative in Gicumbi District said.
Israel is a country with scarce rain and water in general, but has turned into a big food exporter due to developed irrigation systems. As Rwanda has been experiencing drought that continues to affect agricultural production in some parts of the country, this internship is expected to be one of the mechanisms to increase climate change resilience through irrigation skills development.
Therefore once they return, the agronomists are expected to help Rwanda expedite agriculture development through public and private agriculture businesses.
Recently, government with the help of the World Bank commissioned a $16.5 million (about Rwf13 billion) water dam project to boost irrigation in Rulindo District.
The project is funded by the World Bank under the Land Husbandry Water Harvesting and Hillside (LWH) irrigation project, the ministry indicated in a statement last week.
Once completed, it will be the largest irrigation project in the country with the capacity to store 2.4 million cubic meters of water and a retention wall of more than 26 meters high.
The dam is expected to retain enough water to irrigate 1,100 hectares of farm land throughout the year, benefitting all categories of farmers – commercial and small-and-medium farmers, the ministry said.