Umuseke hold an interview with Eric Ruzigamanzi who is the project manager of the Solar Irrigation project. Yesterday he gave us an exclusive interview tackling issues that the project is meant to solve.
1.Introduce yourself to our readers
I am Eric RUZIGAMANZI, a Solar Irrigation Project Manager, a project funded by Opec Fund for International Development (OFID), implemented by Energy4impact in collaboration with Rwanda Development Organization (Local NGO
2.What does your project ‘Solar Irrigation Project’ aims at improving about citizens livelihoods?
The main objective of this particular project is to improve Rwandan small farmers’ livelihoods and contribute towards improving the nation’s food security. This will be done through enabling farmers to get greater agricultural production by adoption of small scale solar irrigation.
Farmers selected from 8 districts will be benefiting from this endeavor.
The core objectives of the project include reaching out to 3,000 small farm holders to benefit from Small Scale Solar irrigation training and related facilities. They will also benefit from our technical assistance in regard to how the solar power irrigating machines work. We are committed to make sure 50% of all beneficiaries are female.
We all also aim at training them on SSSI equipment operation, best agronomic practices and market access as well.
The other significant objective is to back their efforts in easing the process between the Small Scale Solar Irrigation suppliers/farmers.
3.How many districts it intends to be implemented in? Describe the criteria of selection you used in selecting them?
Eight districts from the Eastern and Southern Provinces have been selected. These are Bugesera, Kirehe, Nyagatare, Ngoma, and Gatsibo in the East and Gisagara, Kamonyi and Muhanga in the South.
These are districts that provide better conducive environment for irrigation in the country. They selection was made basing on a 6-month project design phases.
4.How long will your project last and what it is its budget throughout its implementation process?
SIR is a two-year and half project, which started in Feb 2018 and it will be implemented until August 2020. Regarding the budget, it is not yet fully established as the project will be implemented into phases
5.During the project implementation, what are the challenges did you encounter so far?
First of all, farmers are not aware of this technology and its benefits as compared to the conventional water pumping systems.
Most of them are not aware of the importance of getting into collaboration with financial institutions and solar irrigation as a new business opportunity to embrace. It is seemingly because the traditional water pumping irrigation is cheaper however less productive. We are committing to help them overcome this backward thinking.
We have another issue that is ‘with sizing.’ Actually buying solar irrigation equipment is like buying a vehicle together with 10 or so years of fuel all at once.
You have therefore to get it right as oversizing would incur unnecessary costs and undersizing would lead to insufficient performance.
We have therefore realized that even the suppliers often struggle to provide farmers with the right size of the pumps.
For this reason we have slowed down in installing all the demo sites, so that we can observe the progress and quality of the work done, before establishing the rest of the demo sites.
5.Provide some guidelines to farmers while using the above mentioned solar-energy machines
First, farmers should follow the instructions provided by the supplier/ manufacturer of the pump with regard to installation and operation.
Second, farmers should not look it as a very complicated and sophisticated technology, Solar water pump works like any other pump set with the only difference being the solar energy it uses for its operation.
Farmers should know that the system needs very minimal maintenance, which includes cleaning of the panels on a regular basis. Cleaning maintains the efficiency of the panel without which the panel’s surface gets reduced exposure to irradiation from the dust and dirt on it.
They have to make sure the pump and panels are protected against theft and children who can destroy them in one way or another.
Once a machine encounters any technical malfunctioning they have to call the supplier or project technicians.
6.Yesterday, you visit farmers from Gisagara district, Kigembe Sector, why?
The purpose of education day organized in Gisagara demo plot was actually to spread awareness on the use of the SSSI to boost agriculture production and productivity.
Alongside the lead farmers and presidents of cooperatives, participants included financial institutions, equipment supplier (Bunga Energy), local authorities and the project team members.
I, as the Project Manager. took the participants through the main objectives of the project, the benefits of solar water pumps as compared to the conventional pumps; how the interested farmers will be supported to acquire the Small Scale Solar Irrigation Equipment etc.
The supplier of the pump taught them how to use the machine effectively.
The guest of honor in that event was the Vice Mayor of Gisagara district Jean Paul Hanganimana thanked the Energy4impact for its material support to farmers. He urged them to quick adopt the new technology and work closely with project managers.
He promised the district’s assistance in making the environment friendly technology is adopted by as many farmers as possible.
That is all about the objective of our yesterday’s visit to Gisagara.