NYAGATARE - The Ministry of Agriculture (Minagri), through the ‘Government Funded Irrigation’ programme, has allocated Rwf5billion for construction of irrigation canals in Matimba and Musheri sectors of Nyagatare District.
According to officials from the ministry, the new project will boost farmers’ produce in the most drought-prone sectors of the district.
In 2010, over 4000 hectares of maize perished in Nyagatare District due to severe drought, causing farmers to lose thousands of tons of maize.
Oswald Shyirambere, an agronomist in the ministry, said that the new programme will facilitate farmers to harvest without overly relying on climate change.
“We expect farmers to use the new irrigation system during the 2012-2013 farming season. With the new project, farmers will confidently produce their projected quantity unlike seasonal changes,” he said.
The construction site, located in Rwentanga Cell in Matimba Sector, will see irrigation canals, water pumping machines and feeder roads constructed to over 400 hectares of land in two sectors before being extended to the entire district.
Jules Mporana, an official from the department of irrigation and modern farming, said the project is being implemented in collaboration with UNITECH, a South African company.
“This is a long term project that is expected to last for over 20 years facilitating farmers in irrigation activities. But we remind beneficiaries to make good use of the equipment since we shall have our technician who will work with them on a daily basis. We do this because such projects take a huge part of the national budget,” he said.
As part of preparations to maintain good use of the project, farmers formed ‘Water Users Associations’ mainly comprising of farmers’ cooperatives.
Mporana added that in the first phase of the project, extension works will be carried out near Kagitumba border to irrigate 600 more hectares of land.
Shyirambere explained that the programme would promote upland farming.
“Farmers have been carrying out their activities in valleys and swamps during dry seasons…but this new project will even see upland farming during the dry spell,” he said.
Fidele K Gisagara, Executive Secretary of Musheri sector, told The Sunday Times that such projects are accorded value as they stabilize and boost the country’s economy.
“What we are required to do is to mobilize residents on the benefits of the project but mostly maintain its durability. This is something that is crucial to the country’s economy,” he said.
In an interview, farmers welcomed the new project.
“To be honest, I lost over 15tonnes of maize production last year due to the dry spell that always hits our sector. The new project is timely as it rolls back our tears due to constant loss we have been making. We are optimistic that this project will succeed,” said Emmanuel Ndayambaje, a farmer in Matimba sector.
The Ministry’s Government Funded Project has been successful in Kirehe District where over 600hectares of maize are being irrigated.