Food and Agriculture Organization has urged Rwandan farmers engaged in subsistence farming to venture in more paying commercial farming projects.
FAO wants the local farmers to move away from farming for personal ends and engage in agricultural activities that also can keep for export.
Up to 80% Rwandans depend on agriculture for their needs and the international NGO is impressed that in less than a decade since the inception of using irrigation schemes to consolidate agriculture from fragmented subsistence farming in 2010, there are 589 hectors of land now in agro-production under the Irrigation Master Plan (IMP).
Agronomists have over the last six years involved themselves in capacity building on-farm activities that also impart the skills on on-looking farmers in Nyagatare district in the Easter province where the IMP is initially implemented.
Government intends that by 2020 all the irrigation schemes under the IMP should have been achieved and redefining agricultural development on 100 hectors in the country to increase yields by 8.5% and additional to the GDP.
Uwiringiyimana Viateur, a technician in an irrigation equipment company, says that capacity building sessions are indeed very rewarding in terms of fostering relations with the farmers and agronomists to take irrigation schemes to a better level.
The business people that sell irrigation scheme equipment note that farmers in Rwanda haven’t drawn enough knowledge on the activity are more relying on seasonal rains which is not consummate with the agricultural market of today.
Access to the exact irrigation schemes is also difficult and a bit expensive which makes the whole process expensive.
Ngumyembarebe Thacien, the agriculture secretary at the Muhanga district, adds that farmers have, by the intervention of Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) trainers received training in small scale irrigation schemes which is quite rewarding. They now know how to use the irrigation appliances on small farms.
Mutabaruka Fulgence, an agronomist in Nyagatare district noted that they had engrained a lot of knowledge on irrigation farming during the training workshop which will help them fight droughts.
The Ministry of Agriculture decided that among the different initiatives that are meant to improve agriculture and agro-production in the country, up to 75000 hectors will be sided for irrigation schemes.
Small Scare Irrigation Technology (SSIT) initiated in 2014 expects that a small scale irrigation farmer pays 50% of the proceeds and does the government to make easier the implementation of the IMP countrywide.
Today 44330hectors have been irrigated, 35 868hectors in the swamps, 6 018hectors on the hillsides and 2,444hectors on small scale irrigation farms which altogether represents irrigation on 7.5% of the consolidated land for IMP activities.
That percentage is far less that the projected 50% of irrigated land that the Rwandan government wants to irrigate in the next three years.