Small-Scale Irrigation Technology Transforms Farmers’ Lives In Rwanda
Farmers get better yields from improved access to irrigation.
In Kayonza district, part of Rwanda’s drier Eastern province, smallholder farmers like Beata Mukanyirigira depend on reliable access to water and irrigation to improve their livelihoods and increase their yields and productivity.
To confront this challenge, farmers in four districts, Bugesera, Ngoma, Kayonza, and Gatsibo, partnered with the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB), local authorities and the Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze activity, a five-year U.S. Agency for International Development activity implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), to introduce small-scale irrigation technologies (SSIT) in their communities.
These technologies are affordable, appropriate and adaptable to the irrigation needs of smallholder farmers. The system is also powered by solar energy, allowing farmers to eliminate their reliance on diesel and reduce their environmental footprint. So far, nine sites have been completed, covering 100 ha, while two sites covering an addition 100 ha are under development. In total, 300 ha are targeted to be covered through the life of the project, benefitting thousands of farmers by significantly increasing productivity, improving incomes and livelihoods and ensuring food security and nutrition.
Once Hinga Weze and local authorities identify the irrigation sites, farmers are mobilized to consolidate land and form groups and cooperatives. To date, over 10 cooperatives and savings groups have been formed, enabling private sector partnerships from lending institutions, buyers, traders and agrodealers. These partners continue to supply agricultural inputs, to access agricultural inputs and markets. They also reinforce existing community-cohesion and offer employment opportunities and enhanced capacity strengthening interventions for farmers who work on consolidated farms.
Through the SSIT intervention, farmers have gained the knowledge and capacity to manage irrigation infrastructure and ensure the sustainability of their farms and livelihoods. All interventions are farmer-led and have resulted in the additional rollout of good agriculture practices (GAPs), which have greatly improved crop productivity and incomes.
So far, over 1,200 households benefitted from access to the small-scale irrigation infrastructure and this number is expected to increase to include thousands of farmers as the infrastructure will eventually cover 300 total hectares throughout the life of the activity. This undertaking will significantly increase productivity, improve incomes and nutrition, ensure food security and improve the quality of livelihoods for farmers.