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Farmers in Rugende marshland in Rwamagana District, Eastern Province will soon have constant water for irrigation and cattle, thanks to a multibillion irrigation project being developed in the marshland.

The bulldozers preparing the site
The bulldozers preparing the site

The Rwf2.2 billion project is under the third phase of the Rural Sector Support Project (RSSP3) under by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, according to Francine Tumushime, the project co-ordinator at the Agriculture ministry.

She said the Rugende marshland project is designed to enhance rice and horticulture production, as well as fodder growing.

Tumushime said the works will include land excavation, and construction of drainage networks and other irrigation infrastructure. It will cover more than 400 hectares of land.

“The ultimate goal of developing marshlands across the country is to transform the country’s agriculture sector and increase production,” she noted. Tumushime said, under the project, farmers will be equipped with modern farming skills to ensure sustainable and proper utilisation of the marshland.

Once completed, the project will have a water retaining dam that will ensure availability of irrigation water to allow farming activities in the marshland throughout the year, especially during the dry season, she added.

With capacity to store 1,350,000 million cubic meters of water, the 13.50-meter high dam is expected to irrigate 385 hectares throughout the year. The dam construction is expected to be completed by the end of January next year
“On completion, farmers will be able to receive sufficient water to irrigate their crops throughout the year. This is expected to increase land productivity and improve household income for farmers,” she said.

The marshland will cater for, mainly, three agriculture components; 140 hectares will be used for rice farming, 130 hectares for fodder production, while the remaining 115 hectares have been allocated for cultivation of vegetables.

Tumushime said the farmers in Rugende have since been grouped into self-help groups to ensure guided and proper utilisation of the water for maximum gain. The project co-ordinator said RSSP3 focuses on unlocking rural growth to increase people’s incomes and reduce poverty among the masses.

Works for a similar irrigation project were recently launched in Rulindo District to scaleup hillside irrigation in Northern Province. The $16.5 million (about Rwf13.7 billion) project is funded by the World Bank under the Land Husbandry Water Harvesting and Hillside irrigation programme.

The New Times

UM– USEKE.RW

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