This morning, President Paul Kagame and billionaire and philanthropist Howard G. Buffett, drove to Nasho – Kirehe district in Eastern Province to inaugurate the Nasho Solar-powered Irrigation Project funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.
The project includes pivot irrigation systems serving 2099 small scale farmers, a 3.3 MW solar power plant and a model village of 144 houses.
The project was established with objectives to improve on-farm productivity through investments in proper land, water, and inputs utilization for enhanced food security among farmers, and to ensure access to and adoption of technologies that enhances agriculture value chains and conserve the soil.
Nasho Irrigation Scheme is made of 63 center pivots irrigation system, irrigating 1,173 hectares belonging to about 2,000 smallholder farmers.
The project which started operation since the agriculture season 2017A, is a consortium of the government of Rwanda and the Howard G. Buffet Foundation (HGBF). It was established to modernize Rwanda’s agriculture sector and specifically to improve smallholder farmers’ livelihoods.
Rwanda’s agriculture sector contributes over 35% of the GDP and employs more than 85% of Rwandan population.
At the $54 million Nasho Irrigation Project, a center pivot irrigation technology has helped surrounding farmers improve their livelihoods by enabling them to grow crops all year round, and allowing for a more efficient use of inputs, such as water and fertilizer, and by enhancing the yields and quality of the crops they grow.
Beneficiaries of the irrigation systems at Nasho were grouped into a cooperative; Nasho Irrigation Cooperative (NAICO) based in Nasho sector, in Kirehe District; which utilize and maintain the infrastructure.
The project consists of a solar power plant with a capacity of 3.3 megawatts to power the irrigation system, with 2.4 MW battery storage unit installed, to provide electricity to pump water and reduce the burden from farmers.
About 24 km of existing road network within the project area were widened and resurfaced and about 10 km of new roads created, which made it easy for installation of irrigation systems as well as transportation of inputs and produce.
As of the agriculture season 2020A at Nasho Irrigation Scheme, the productivity for maize is between 5.5 metric tons per hectare and 10 metric tons per hectare, while beans are produced at 1.5 metric tons per hectare. Soybean is produced at 1.3 metric ton per hectare.