Sunday, 28 April 2013

Rice farming changing the face of Nyagatare

Rice farming changing the face of NyagatareWithin two years of rehabilitating Muvumba marshland, farmers are in a jovial mood as they can’t wait to harvest rice for the first time. This was after a lot of resistance from residents of Nyagatare District’s Tabagwe Sector who previously owned small plots of farmland for their cattle.
From the eye’s view, the rice fields covering 285 hectares in Kirimburi area give you a feel of the nature of this investment and how much efforts was required to change the mindset of residents of Nyagatare.
When the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources through the Rural Sector Support Project (RSSP) eventually found out that 1,763 hectares of land in Nyagatare were feasible for rice growing, many residents accused  the ministry officials of having an ambition of killing them with poverty.
But as farmers wait to harvest rice for the first time, the story is different.
One of the farmers, John Mujyarugamba, owns 2.5 hectares of land in Kirimburi. He acknowledges that at first they resisted because they had not fully understood the benefits of growing rice.
“It is not only rice farmers that are benefiting but also the surrounding communities,” he said.
Antony Bizimana, President of the rice growing cooperative in the marshland, asserted that the farmers expect high yields of rice even if they are harvesting it for the first time.
“Though there was resistance and strong protest in the mind of local residents at the time, we expect to harvest 6 tons per hectare totalling to 1,710 tons of paddy rice which was planted on a total area of 285 hectares. It gives us hope that this season’s yield incomes further improved our life,” Bizimana stated.
As a result, the incomes earned from the activities that surround the whole rice chain which commenced with the rehabilitation of Muvumba 8 Marshland and dam construction have seen the rise of a trading centre in Tabagwe Sector.  The strong demand for manpower in rice growing created a demand for construction in the area to shelter new workers.
Within a period of less than two years, the Nshuri Trading Centre which was developed due to the activities of the project is a big player in the development of Nyagatare, courtesy of RSSP. Its strategic location being less than an hour from various border posts with Uganda is contributing to the economic growth of the centre itself and Nyagatare District.
It is estimated that the marshland could generate Rwf 700 million as a return on investment every year once it is brought to full utilisation.
The Ministry of Agriculture estimates that investors in the marshland could recover their money in just one year, a projection that makes the area a potential investment destination especially for mechanised agriculture.
The rehabilitation of  Muvumba  8 Marshland will cost around US$10million (about Rwf 6.2bn) injected by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources through the Rural Sector Support Project.
The rice growing project joins two other big projects, Umutara Polytechnic University and the East African Granite Industries, in boosting the economic transformation of Nyagatare District.


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