SAIP Small-scale irrigation technologies boost farmers’ efforts to venture into commercial agriculture 

In order to address the challenges of limited access to water for irrigation during dry season especially in rainfed areas, the Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Food Security (SAIP) has embarked on supporting farmers to adopt Small Scale Irrigation Technologies (SSIT).

Small-scale irrigation is a climate-smart agriculture practice that enables farmers to increase their incomes and improve their resilience.

Under the Irrigation and Water Use Efficiency component, SAIP has promoted technologies and best practices for increased availability and efficient use of water for irrigation to increase crop productivity and increase farmers’ resilience to climate volatility.

SAIP aimed at building the resilience of smallholder farmers and agribusiness investors to climate shocks and changing weather patterns by supporting them to install small-scale irrigation technologies, which has allowed smallholder farmers to start producing crops year-round.

The project is contributing to the government of Rwanda’s plan on subsidized farmer-owned SSIT for improved productivity and commercial farming by providing matching grants and a support package (maintenance and business plan development) for farmers to access small-scale irrigation equipment.

SAIP puts decision-making power directly in the hands of smallholder farmers and investors who apply for the SSIT matching grants, choose the preferred irrigation technology, provide co-payment, and own the irrigation equipment as well as the responsibility for its operation and maintenance.

The small scale irrigation technology includes; ready to use 0.5ha to 10ha farms with complete drip kit/ sprinkler kit/rain-gun kits/rain pipe with portable diesel/petrol motor pump or solar powered irrigation system, and pipes and rain-water harvesting through tanks (plastic and concrete), and dam sheet technologies.

Irrigation has enabled farmers to grow more and different kinds of crops all year around unleashing their potential to increase food production and improve incomes and livelihoods.

Where once there was limited cultivation of vegetables, farmers are now growing high value crops such as chili pepper, French beans, turmeric, ginger, garlic, cucumber tomatoes, and onions and fruits such as tree tomatoes and passion fruits, and as well as flowers.

SSIT has allowed farmers to access water for their fields, enabling them grow horticultural crops throughout the year.

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.