Howard Buffet, the son to Warren Buffet, is in Rwanda where he will tour various projects financed by his foundation, the Howard Buffet Foundation.
Howard donated $500 million to Rwanda earlier this year to support agriculture and other initiatives. He is in the country to catch up with the progress on ground.
His multimillion-dollar support to Rwanda aims at transforming agriculture production through establishing irrigation systems, skills training and energy production.
According to his foundation, the vast projects will help Rwanda shift from subsistence to commercial farming. The country also targets 8.5% agricultural growth every year.
Rwanda is already preparing a site that will host Africa’s finest Agriculture Institute. It will help bridge skills gaps in the country’s agriculture sector. The institute project is directly supervised by Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB).
Penn State University in US was contracted to carryout planning and design of the institute expected to boost Rwanda’s College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine.
Also an irrigation scheme on a 1280ha is under construction at Nasho II in Kirehe District, Eastern Province. It will be completed in March 2016; the project will cost $24 million.
“It is our priority project; we cannot achieve the 8.5% agricultural growth every year, unless we have a very strong irrigation system,” Dr. Magnifique Ndambe Nzaramba, the coordinator of Buffet’s projects in Rwanda has told KT Press.
The irrigation project in the 1300 ha Nasho marshland will benefit the farmers who alternate maize, beans and horticulture and are main suppliers of the country.
It involves several local and international contractors who are mainly recruited by Buffet Foundation, each providing a specific component.
KT Press has independently established that Conflict & Development Foundation (CDF) an affiliate of Texas A&M University was contracted to manage the Nasho II Support funds and to deal with other contractors.
Other contractors include Lindsay Ltd who designed the site layout plan. Lindsay International Sales & Services LLC won the tender to supply and install irrigation equipment while also conducting technical training on the irrigation plant.
To ensure effective operation, the contract with this firm also includes offering operations and management services within a period of one year after installation.
However, with all these projects, some families will have to be displaced to give way to establish the projects.
The Rwanda Reserve Forces are constructing houses for 50 families expected to be affected. A house is valued at Rwf 7 million, according to Ndambe Nzaramba.
According to Theoneste Nizeyimana, Executive Secretary of Nasho sector, those affected will also be compensated.
Remote Group, a US firm is constructing a 35km road; it’s already 35% complete.
This project will also include installation of 3 megawatt solar power plant. Half of this will be utilized to power-up irrigation machines. The rest will be added on the 160 MW power grid of the country, thus connecting Nasho residents.
Nizeyimana told KT Press, “This project is having immediate and long term impact on our people.”
He said it is offering jobs to hundreds of people, and upon completion, it will transform the livelihood of beneficiary communities because it will allow intensive farming through all the three seasons of the country.
Meanwhile, the philanthropist, who will be hosted to a state dinner, will have an aerial exploration of Rwanda’s green scenery; particularly over Nasho area bordering Tanzania and Karama in Bugesera district bordering Burundi.