RWANDA – Netafim, an Israel based irrigation technology firm, has entered into a US$66.68 million joint venture with Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in developing the Gabiro Agribusiness Hub Project (GAHP) that seeks to boost food security.
According to New Times, the fund will finance the first phase of the project over a period of 18 months to develop 5,600 hectares.
Overall, the GAHP aims to create a holistic and commercial agricultural ecosystem by developing modern value chain over an area of approximately 5,600 hectares of arable land.
The government has a 90% shareholding in the venture to be developed in phases where phase one requires investment of approximately U$73.9 million.
The project will integrate advanced water infrastructure, cutting-edge irrigation systems, high-value agro-processing operations and other agricultural technology activities across the agriculture value chain.
GAHP will also develop an infrastructure for a commercial farming that seeks to boost food security in the region which has been adversely affected by drought.
The project will support the production of crops for local consumption (staple crops), export and agricultural value-added products such as pastes, powders, oils and beverages intended mostly for export.
It will also integrate local livestock especially in the community irrigation aspect of the project.
Speaking after the signing, the RDB Chief Executive Officer, Clare Akamanzi said that Netafim has suitable skills in technologies such as drip irrigation and fertigation necessary to implement the project.
These innovative and efficient irrigation technologies, she said, will enable small farmers to increase crop production in addition to averting water scarcity, increasing productivity, incomes and household food security.
“This project will significantly enhance private sector investments in Rwanda’s agricultural sector, mitigate the risks of climate change and food security, contribute to job creation, increase export of value-added products and enhance rural community development and livelihood,” Akamanzi is quoted in the statement.
GAHP aims, among other objectives, to de-risk private sector investment in agriculture, hence a need for government investment, attract significant foreign investments to Rwanda in large scale commercial farming and crop processing plants.
About 50,000 hectares of farmland is irrigated in Rwanda, while the country targets to irrigate 102,284 hectares by 2024.