Small-scale farmers have decried the high cost of effective irrigation techniques needed to avoid dependence on unpredictable weather patterns.
The farmers say that a set of effective irrigation technologies cost over Rwf1 million, which is way out of reach for most smallholder farmers who form the biggest part of those in agriculture sector.
With the threat of global warming, irrigation is the only reliable option for farmers if the country is to remain food secure and also produce for export.
Indeed, availing affordable irrigation technology is critical if this target is to be achieved.
The world over, modern farming relies on irrigation technology to ensure good yields since climate change has completely changed how farming is done.
Therefore, the concerns of the farmers should be treated by the concerned authorities as a priority. Different avenues should be explored to ensure that every farmer in the country is able to afford or use irrigation because farming without mechanisms for irrigation, is like shooting in the dark.
In the past, farmers have suffered heavy losses as a result of prolonged drought in many parts of the country. To avoid such in future, farmers should be supported to acquire irrigation facilities at an affordable cost.
Although the Government, through the Agriculture and Animal Resources ministry, helps small-scale farmers to acquire irrigation equipment through a government subsidy, more needs to be done to ensure that no farmer counts losses just because they can’t afford irrigation technology.
Figures from the ministry show that over 45,000 hectares of land are under irrigation, of which only about 5,600 are covered under small-scale irrigation with government covering 50 per cent of the cost as subsidy. Increasing irrigation cover will help in achieving the national targets in the agriculture sector, which is the backbone of the country’s economy.