The third phase of the Rural Sector Support Project (RSSP) is expected to cost US$70 million (about Rwf42 billion), an official at the project said.
According to Dr Chika A. Ezeanya, a communications expert working with the body, the second phase is due for completion in December 2011, with phase III due next year.
“RSSP III is a US$70 million project, which is double the amount for RSSP II ($35 million), and RSSP Phase III should commence by 2012; we are currently negotiating with a World Bank team on the inception date,” she said.
The RSSP is a project supported by the World Bank to help the government achieve its strategic goal of revitalising the rural economy, thereby increasing rural incomes, reducing poverty levels and reinforcing national stability.
Ezeanya acknowledged that the phase II was scheduled to end in 2012 but was completed10 months ahead of schedule, commending the Central Government for its support to the project.
“Globally, it is a fact that rural development programmes often encounter difficulties in meeting the predetermined execution timeline due to logistical uncertainties often involved in that sector. RSSP II surpassed expectation by concluding even well ahead of the planned wrap-up date.”
According to Dr Ezeanya, RSSP III will consolidate the achievements made under phase II as more irrigation dams will be built and more marshlands developed.
During the third phase, more farmers are expected to be trained on modern farming techniques and on the business or commercial aspects of farming.
Through the RSSP, the Government set out to foster a rapid transition from subsistence-based agriculture, in which the majority of Rwandan farmers are involved, to market-oriented commercial agriculture.
Phase I of the three phased RSSP was executed between 2001 and 2008. It oversaw the development of 3,113 hectares of marshlands around the country and the construction of nine irrigation dams that facilitated year round production.
RSSP I was able to bring the needed irrigation infrastructure to the rural areas and empowered a total of 201, 291 farmers who directly benefitted from the capacity building exercise, according to officials.
According to the expert, throughout its three years of its implementation, RSSP II has executed several irrigation projects around the country, which has had a significant impact on the rice sector.
The project has focused on the improvement of production of national priority crops such as, rice, maize, potato, wheat, with a focus on improving seed production in the country.
Under RSSP II, over 3,000 hectares of irrigated marshlands with eight irrigation dams were constructed.
By the end of 2011, it is estimated that the total annual output of rice from the RSSP II project alone will stand at about 36,000, resulting in a total of Rwf8 billion in incomes for the rural rice growers.
The project coordinator of RSSP, Jolly Dusabe, noted that the country would be one of the biggest rice exporting countries on the continent if all the projects are concluded.
“Rwanda will become self-sufficient in rice and become one of the rice exporting countries in Africa.” Dusabe said.