The biggest boon to subsistence agriculture is the dependence on rain for growing crops. Rwanda’s agriculture sector which employs over 80% of the population, like many agrarian economies are rain fed.
This implies that effective agriculture is limited to the months of the year or the seasons when rain is available which creates two problems.
One, during those rainy months there is likely to be an oversupply of food while in the dry months there is a shortage in return.
This seasonal trend affects prices of food and the food security situation of a country in general.
During the recent Joint Agricultural Sector Review when stakeholders in the agricultural sector meet to review the progress and address the challenges that the sector faces, it was put forward that there was still a huge gap in the current horticultural situation and what can be.
Horticulture is the production of high value crops for which regular availability of resources like water is very crucial.
Besides, for horticultural crops to make sense o farmers they need to be in constant supply such that the markets can open up due to dependability and regularity of supply.
It is thus important that for Rwanda to ensure a vibrant horticultural sector it needs to avail to farmers solutions that avail water and other resources to crops in a controlled but regular manner. Irrigation is one way in which the problem of over dependency on rain.
Modern irrigation systems for large scale farms may be on the pricier side of the coin but deliver substantive yield increases that fully justify a proper investment in irrigation.
Such systems involve the use of drip line systems through which only droplets of water are releases at the exact point where the plant needs them near its roots and is immediately available for a controlled but adequate period of time.
At Balton Rwanda, such unique solutions to small holder horticulture questions are on offer through family irrigation kits.
Such kits are composed of a normal locally available water tank placed at a point of high elevation onto which small and affordable drip line system is attached.
Water is controlled through a simple valve or tap system which can be turned on and of accordingly and water moves from the tank to the drip lines and into the root systems of the individual plants by force of gravity.
Meanwhile the challenge is to fill the water tank. This can be done in various ways e.g. harvesting rainwater, using a manual moneymaker pump to move water from a water pond, a lake or a marshland or in some cases refilling the water tank manually with plastic cans.
Such a unit is friendly to small farmer because it can be used to irrigate small one or two acres of farmland. It is affordable and cost effective because only water needed for watering is availed at one particular time.
It saves farmers time, and avoids wastage of this precious resource, reduces disease attacks and allows efficient nutrient supplementation also allows one to grow cross all through the year and be able to maintain a constant and well planned supply of fresh produce.
A family irrigation kit is suitable to all year round application in all crops and is simple to install, operate and maintain. It eliminates the need for electricity and is suitable for any shape and size of plot from 100 Sqm to 2,000 Sqm.
Such units are available through Balton Rwanda, a distributor of Netafim, which is the world’s leader in irrigation technology.