This Wednesday, President Paul Kagame inaugurated the Nasho
Solar-powered Irrigation Project funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation in partnership
with the Government of Rwanda.
Nasho Irrigation Scheme project, worth $54 million, was established to modernize Rwanda’s agriculture sector and specifically improve smallholder farmers’ livelihoods. It has been operational since the agriculture season 2017A, according to the statement from the Ministry of Agriculture.
“ It was established with objectives to improve on-farm productivity of crops through investments in proper land, water, and inputs utilization for enhanced food security among Rwandan farmers, and to ensure access to and adoption of technologies that enhances agricultural value chains and conserve the soil,” the statement reads in part.
While speaking at the inauguration ceremony earlier today, President Kagame commended Buffett for his partnership with the Government of Rwanda that has become very productive and transformed the lives of farmers.
" I am very glad that we are witnessing a scheme like this one, which has improved the lives of so many to the level many people could not have achieved in such a short time," President Kagame said.
He added: " Howard, I wanted to thank you for not only your friendship with this country of Rwanda and the people and myself but also for the partnership that has become very productive in this way. I think the reward for you and all those who are doing their best to make this partnership as successful as it has been and continues to be, is seeing bright and happy faces of the thousands of Rwandans,"
Nasho Irrigation Scheme is made of 63 center pivots irrigation system, irrigating 1,173 hectares belonging to about 2,000 smallholder farmers.
Beneficiaries of the irrigation systems at Nasho were grouped into a cooperative; Nasho Irrigation Cooperative (NAICO) based in Nasho sector, Kirehe District; which utilize and maintain the infrastructure.
The irrigation project, also consists of a solar power plant with a capacity of 3.3 megawatts to power the irrigation system, with 2.4 MW battery storage unit installed, to provide electricity to pump water and reduce the burden from farmers.
President Kagame observed that: "Agriculture and conservation have come together to make a big difference for so many lives, not just benefitting by receiving handouts but receiving best practice, different inputs from the investments that Howard you have made,"
The had of state added: " Seeing Rwandans able to learn to do things and show the benefits in real life and benefits in productivity and revenues and in all matters that matter to people’s lives. We also have the challenge to ensure this productive relationship never comes to waste at any point. If you can take it from 3, 4, 5 tonnes per hectare to close to 10, then it is only showing what is possible that everyone can do, and that is the spirit that characterizes what we have been doing or want to do."
144 houses, including 36 houses that are four-in-one, were constructed to resettle households from areas under pivot irrigation, and farm buildings.
As of the agriculture season 2020A, the productivity from the irrigation project for maize was between 5.5MT/ha and 10MT/ha, Beans at 1.5 MT/ha, and Soybean at 1.3 MT/ha.
About 24 km of existing roads within the project area were widened and resurfaced and about 10 km of new roads created, which made it easy for installation of irrigation systems as well as transportation of inputs and produce, the Ministry of Agriculture noted in a statement.
By Athan Tashobya
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