GATSIBO — Members of the rice growing cooperative (COPRORI Ntende) in Rugarama, Gatsibo District are struggling to save their rice plantations from withering as the country grapples with the current dry spell.
While some farmers are struggling to irrigate their farm holdings using the scarce water resources available, others have completely abandoned rice farming, dealing a big blow to what was once one of the most lucrative businesses in the region.
“You see this swampy area has no sufficient water to irrigate the rice fields. Even the dams we constructed cannot sustain irrigating the plantations, ” Alice Murebwayire, one of the cooperative members said.
In Ntende valley, the largest rice growing area in the district, The New Times established that extensive areas of the swampy area where the rice used to be grown have since dried up.
“The whole of this swampy area was full of rice but when water started being scarce we shifted to growing sweet potatoes and maize growing.
It was no longer viable to grow rice since there was no capacity to get water for irrigation,” Jorome Karambizi, another farmer said.
The Rugarama Sector Executive Secretary, John Mushumba, says development partners have helped farmers to carry out irrigation but the water challenge still remains.
A local farmer, Jean Pierre Murigo, however still believes that this swampy area can produce additional quantities of rice if there are mechanisms to maintain the water levels that are needed.