RWANDA – Rwanda is on course to commission a US$74 million irrigated agricultural estate occupying 15,600 hectares of arable land with advanced water infrastructure and cutting-edge irrigation systems.

Signed in 2019, The Gabiro Agribusiness Hub (GAHP) is a joint venture between the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the Israeli company Netafim, a specialty in precision irrigation solutions.

Uwituze Solange, a representative of the project executive made the announcement, adding that the farm is projected to come into operation by the 4th quarter of 2023.

The project occupies a 15,600-hectare site in the Nyagatara region in the east of the country. According to sources, the Government of Rwanda provided a 90% shares-Equity while the global leader of the irrigation sector Netafim Ltd. with 10% shares.

Covering an area of 5,600ha of which 30% will be allocated to the local community, Phase 1 works focused on irrigation infrastructure.

This will include road networks within the scheme; electrical powerlines; housing for resettled families; agriculture and livestock training; and demonstration farms to promote modern techniques and innovative technologies.

Ms. Uwituze revealed that 11 investors have already positioned themselves to develop an area of 4,000 hectares on the site from next October, adding that the move would lead to the creation of more than 4,000 jobs.

Michael Bruderli, Managing Director of the Netafim Gabiro project on his part stated that their precision irrigation solutions can save up to 50% water for agriculture, double most yields and significantly improve crop quality.

In Rwanda, the agricultural sector contributes 23% to GDP and employs around 55% of the working population. However, as in the majority of sub-Saharan African countries, agriculture is still predominantly rain-fed.

However, the potential of irrigable land in the country is estimated at more than 589,711 hectares but is currently only exploited at 7.5% according to official data.

The executives, therefore, are hopeful that through irrigation, farmers can grow a wider variety of crops and engage in farming activities all year round.

“This allows for diversification and value addition, as they can venture into high-value crops or engage in agro-processing, which can be attractive for private investors looking for profitable businesses,” explained the manager.

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