South Korea will continue partnering with the government in efforts aimed at improving the agriculture sector through modern farming methods.
However, Hyeong Lae Cho, the Korea International Co-operation Agency (KOICA) representative in Rwanda, said South Korea is currently supporting projects that will help improve marshland and hillsides. This, he noted, will ensure access to arable land for farmers in selected districts in the two years up to 2018. Cho urged local farmers to change their mindset and embrace modern agriculture to boost output and household income.
Citing South Korea’s experience of the late 60s and 70s, he said Rwanda can learn a lot from it, especially interventions that are relevant to the local situation.
Cho made the remarks during a farmers’ training for KOICA-supported projects in the agriculture sector on Wednesday in Kigali.
The workshop attracted over 60 farmers from the districts of Nyaruguru, Gasabo and Muhanga. In 2014, KOICA donated $11 million to fund the rural community support project (RCSP), which started operations in 2015 and will end in December 2018. The project is being implemented in the districts of Muhanga and Gasabo by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources under the land-husbandry, water harvesting and hillside irrigation (LWH) initiative; the rural sector support programme and Rural Community Support Project (RCSP). It will be rolled out to Gatsibo and Gicumbi districts later.
The project focuses on marshland and hillside development and has a component of capacity development for farmers, especially on good agronomical practices and marketing to enhance production and market access, according to ministry officials.
Celestin Mutumayi, the project manager, said RCSP targets to develop 630 hectares of marshland and ensure that 1,260 hectares of land on hillsides are managed sustainably. Mutumayi said the project has already improved 123 hectares of marshland that will be used for rice and vegetable growing during season A of 2017, while 206 hectare of terraces have also been completed on hillsides.
“Farmers in the project sites have been grouped in co-operatives to give farmers more bargaining power and gain from their farming activities, as well as ease access to formal financial credit,” Mutumayi said. Through these groups, farmers are also supported with extension services, training on proper agronomical practices, and compost-making to boost crop production, he said.
Mutumayi said under the Nyaruguru integrated rural development project, 183 hectares of land have been rehabilitated and improved in Kibeho sector and are currently being used by farmers.
Beomhee Hong, the rural development specialist at KOICA Rwanda, said after marshland rehabilitation last year, farmers in Kibeho were able to improve output, producing over 1,200 tonnes of Irish potatoes worth Rwf250 million.
We hope this doubles with time, he noted.
He revealed that KOICA will sponsor 35 farmers to undertake a one month irrigation training in South Korea early next year.
“This will give them exposure and enrich their skills on irrigation, as well as marshland and hillside management. The beneficiaries will include 10 rice farmers, 10 vegetable growers and 15 will train in community-led development initiatives, commonly known as New Village Movement (SMU).
Hong said also KOICA will continue to give technical support to farmers, as well as provide equipment.
Eng Augustine Nzamwirakuze, the in charge of irrigation at Ministry of Agriculture, said the government is promoting crop irrigation to transform the sector and make it sustainable and more productive. “Most farmers depend on seasonal rains, but we have realised that this approach is not sustainable. That’s why the government has devised new modern strategies, like crop irrigation and use of fertilisers, to ensure sustainable crop production and food security,” he said. He lauded KOICA’s training and support toward the implementation of these strategies, including marshland and hillside management.