Farmers in Muhanga District represented by different cooperatives, agronomists and local officials today met with officials from Rwanda Development Organisation and Energy 4 Impact during a demonstration exercise of solar powered irrigation.
The demonstration at Takwe marshland in Cyeza Sector of Muhanga District was to showcase solar irrigation technology and its benefits to farmers from different sectors of the district.
Diana Mugwaneza, the Programs Officer at Rwanda Development Organisation (RDO) told farmers that they are bringing solar irrigation because it has many benefits and will easily increase their productivity.
She underlined that unlike other types of irrigation, solar is easy to use and maintain which does not require daily input like fuel or buying electricity.
RDO with support from Energy 4 Impact set up a demonstration site at Takwe marshland with a solar powered irrigation system that is composed of a pump, solar panel, installed pipes and dam sheet for water storage with a capacity of 120 cubic litres.
Eric Rugiramanzi, the Project Manager at Energy 4 Impact revealed that they were only demonstrating to farmers the benefits of solar irrigation technology.
He explained that the irrigation equipments come at a subsidised fee which requires farmers to only pay 30%, the rest of the cost is paid by Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) 50% while his project pays 20%.
Rugiramanzi underlined that the project is focusing on small scale solar irrigation to benefit smallholder farmers.
Beatta Namutumyende, a farmer in Takwe marshland found in Cyeza sector says that before the arrival of the solar irrigation she could pay at least Rwf.5000 per day to irrigate her 5-acre garden.
“I would incur daily expenses to buy petrol for a week on top of other labour costs to irrigate,” she observes.
She applauded the initiative by RDO and Energy 4 Impact for availing to them a solar irrigation which is saving her a lot money.
The small scale solar irrigation project is targeting smallholder farmers who are organized into farmer groups and cooperatives, through the introduction of specialist financing facilities and other market development activities, such as product and technology awareness.
The programme aims to support 13,000 farmers over five years with access to solar irrigation systems, resulting in improved productivity and increased income benefiting their family members representing 65,000 people.