Agricultural activities in Rwanda’s Ngoma District have received a major boost following the launch of a solar irrigation project by the Rwanda Rural Rehabilitation Initiative (Rwarri).
According to a statement from Rwarri, the project will be comprised of two solar-powered water pumping stations and two clay stone reservoirs with capacities of 500m3 each.
The implementation of the Ngoma solar irrigation project will require an investment of 260 million Rwandan francs (nearly €217,000).
The Rwanda Green Fund (Fonerwa) will provide part of the funding, 168 million Rwandan francs (more than 139,000 euros) to the initiative.
The project is expected to benefit about 24,000 Rwandese farmers hailing from the Zaza and Mutenderi sectors, with each sector being allocated one solar pumping station and one clay stone reservoir.
The farmers include 1,500 small-scale farmers and 900 producers of “high value-added” crops, including 600 women and 300 young people.
As part of its project, Rwarri will also provide practical training on sustainable agriculture and the operation of green technologies.
The aim is to increase farmers’ productivity which is currently reliant on rainfall and thus affected by the unpredictable weather patterns.
It also offers a sustainable and affordable option to irrigation when compared to diesel powered pumps that are both expensive to maintain and damaging to the environment.
“Currently, to produce vegetables during the 3 months of the dry season, the farmer spends about 600,000 Rwandan francs (almost 500 euros) on fuel for the generator used to pump water up the hillside,” explains Rwarri.
Rwarri notes that these expenses are very high for a farmer working in the Zaza or Mutenderi areas forcing farmers to only farm for only two seasons instead of three.
To improve farm yield, Rwarri has been pioneering the use of solar water pumps in Rwanda, just recently the non-governmental organisation launched another solar irrigation project in the same District of Ngoma.