RWANDA – The Rwandan government, in partnership with American billionaire, Howard Buffet has inaugurated a US$54m irrigation scheme in Nasho Sector of Kirehe District which also consists of a solar power plant with a capacity of 3.3 megawatts to power the irrigation system.
The scheme established under the Howard G. Buffet Foundation (HGBF) is aimed to modernize Rwanda’s agriculture sector and specifically improve smallholder farmers’ livelihoods.
Following the successful implementation of the project and impact on the beneficiaries, Buffet has decided to continue with the partnership by pledging to establish Africa’s largest centre for agriculture research and extension in the country.
The centre which he dubbed as a ‘powerhouse of research and extension that does not exist in Africa,’ will also involve connecting Nasho Sector of Kirehe District with Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) in Bugesera District.
“We came to an agreement with the government to finish the road that will connect RICA and Nasho, we have come to an agreement on how we will be able to complete it. About 36 kilometres of road,” he said.
He commended the commitment and leadership of the Rwandan government which he said had enabled the cooperation.
The irrigation scheme inaugurated has been operational since the agriculture season 2017A.
The project is made of 63 center pivots irrigation system, irrigating 1,173 hectares belonging to 2,099 smallholder farmers.
It has so far had an impact in ways such as increasing output to between 5.5 to 10 Metric Tonnes per hectare for maize, 1.5 metric tonnes per hectare for beans and 1.3 metric tonnes per hectare for soybeans in agriculture season 2020A.
In 2015, the billionaire expressed an ambitious plan to invest up to US$500 million (about Rwf345 billion) to support Rwanda’s agricultural development.
The investment which was to be made in phases he said would support agricultural development in the country.