On a shiny afternoon in Kiburara village in the heart of Kabare sector, Kayonza District, in Eastern Province, Emmanuel Dusabimana 38, is busy tending to tree-tomato typically referred to as the tamarillo, on his one hectare farmland.
Dusibimana is one of the smallholder farmers in the Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Food Security Project (SAIP) intervention site in Kayonza District earning huge income from horticulture thanks to the project support.
Before the project intervention in the area, small holders’ farmers across Kayonza district suffered a failed harvest due to drought since they depended largely on rainfed agriculture.
With the introduction of irrigation infrastructure in the area, by the project, farmers have ventured into cultivation of horticultural crops due to sufficient water for irrigation throughout the year.
“Before the project came to our area, I was cultivating sorghum, maize, beans and cassava for home consumption. But, the prolonged droughts, coupled with nonexistent or poor irrigation systems and poor agricultural practices affected our yield,” says Dusabimana.
He adds that, at the time, the yield was very poor and low which could not satisfy his family.
After treatment of our land and the construction of irrigation infrastructure by the project, Dusabimana has ventured into cultivation of vegetables and fruits, but most importantly tree-tomato which fetch him higher returns than any other crop.
Apart from tree tomatoes, Dusibamana also cultivates passion fruits, green and chili peppers on a small scale.
“The introduction of irrigation systems by SAIP in our area has enabled me to embark on commercial farming. I have ventured into commercial tree tomato farming and the yield is amazing,” says Dusabimana.
He adds: “I harvest 100 kilograms every week, once the fruits are mature. The market is there. In fact I am not able to satisfy the market demand.”
Dusabimana who is married with five children, says that he sells his tree tomato fruits at 800Rwf per kilogram to local markets and in a month, after deducting all his expenses, he says that he is able to bank more than 150,000Rwf, money he says he never expected to earn.
According to him, tree tomatoes are becoming popular with farmers due to sufficient water for irrigation and stable prices in the market.
“I am planning to increase my acreage to 3 hectares of tree tomatoes because commercial farming has proved to be a lucrative venture,” he says.
“The venture is good since it pays school fees for my children and provides food for my family. It also helped renovate my house and as well purchase 10 goats,” he says, adding that the family also takes some for home consumption which adds nutritional value to the family's daily diet.
Dusabimana further says the secret to all this is getting proper training on horticulture farming techniques from SAIP agricultural extension staff.
“I no longer have to worry about my children staying out of school for lack of fees. I urge other farmers to embrace it since it has become a cash cow,” he says.
Through SAIP support, farmers in Kayonza District have taken initiatives such as the use of land management techniques, the production of compost and improved farming methods and as well as hillside irrigation scheme which have greatly increased crop produce hence improved livelihoods.
In Kayonza SAIP site, out of the total area treated with comprehensive land husbandry technologies, 875Ha are subjected to rain fed agriculture, 420Ha gross area in the command area was developed for hillside irrigation.
In the site, there are 3,319 Farmers’ households (2,138 males and 1,181 females). Farmers have been organized into 171 Self Help Groups (SHGs) spread across 15 zones. SHGs have since formed 1 strong and vibrant cooperative and 1 Water Users Association (WUA).
The project equipped farmers with an irrigation system, 3 post harvest storage facilities, 7 dryers and 1 banana produce collection centre. All these post harvest facilities have significantly contributed towards increased yield and the reduction of post-harvest losses.
SAIP’s main development objective is to increase agricultural productivity, market access, and food security of the targeted beneficiaries in the project intervention areas across the country.