The introduction of hillside irrigation scheme in the Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Food Security Project (SAIP) in Muyanza site, Rulindo district in the Northern Province has enabled farmers and various investors to embrace the cultivation of high value crops.
The irrigation scheme is able to irrigate 1100 a of crop fields throughout the year which benefits all categories of farmers, that is, commercial, medium and small scale.
Where once there was limited cultivation of vegetables, farmers are now growing high value crops such as chili pepper, french beans, turmeric, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, chia seeds and onions and fruits such as tree tomatoes and passion fruits, and as well as flowers.
Before the introduction of hillside irrigation, farmers depended largely on rainfed agriculture which affected their productivity most especially during the dry season.
According to farmers, channeling water to their cultivating fields was nearly impossible because of the rocky terrain that made accessing the existing streams immensely difficult.
But now an irrigation system and water retaining dam have been constructed in their fields allowing them to access water for their fields, enabling them grow horticultural crops throughout the year.
This has allowed them to make a significant difference to their productivity which has raised their incomes and brought hope to the community.
Farmers thank SAIP for introducing irrigation systems in the area and as well improved agriculture practices which boosted their confidence to cultivate horticultural crops.
According to farmers, their choice for high-value crops has already proven to be a lucrative venture with a good market potential.
“SAIP has supported us to access improved agriculture inputs, capacity building skills and water for irrigation which enhanced our efforts to cultivate high-value crops,” said Viateur Bagwaneza, one of the farmers supported by SAIP in Muyanza.
Bagwaneza who is also the president of Korukire Muyanza Cooperative said that through capacity building availed to them by SAIP; farmers are learning to grow a variety of commercially viable crops.
“I have ventured into cultivation of chili pepper because I have been taught by the Project how to invest in high-value crops. I cultivated Teja Dried Red Chili on 1.5 ha and I’m expecting huge investment returns after harvesting,” explains Bagwaneza.
He added: “I urge other farmers to embrace the cultivation of high-value crops since it will help us alleviate poverty and promote food security.”
Bagwaneza says that farmers have been growing beans, maize and banana, but the development of irrigation system in the site, they are able to focus on high value horticultural crops.
“The development of Muyanza irrigation scheme has enabled us to shift to commercial farming by cultivating high-value horticultural crops because these crops require water to survive most especially during the dry season,” says Gaspard Nsengiyumva, another SAIP beneficiary in Muyanza site.
He explains that the introduction of irrigation is a blessing to farmers as they now have good yields even in the prolonged dry periods.
“We could not grow vegetables and other crops during the dry season because of lack of water. We have been suffering even though we were able to access nearby streams,” says Nsengiyumva.
He thanks the Project for supporting farmers to shift to commercial agriculture to boost productivity and improve household income.
The construction of Muyanza irrigation scheme also attracted various investors in the site who are currently engaged in the cultivation of high-value export crops.
Irrigation system is not only helping to improve agricultural production and the incomes of the farmers but more importantly boosts the supply of food during the dry season.
Rulindo (Muyanza site) is one of the Sustainable Agriculture Intensification and Food security Project (SAIP) intervention sites across Rwanda.
Out of the total area treated with comprehensive land husbandry technologies, 988 ha in Muyanza site are subjected to rain fed agriculture, 1,100 ha gross area in the command area was developed for hillside irrigation.
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.