Farmers in Rwanda has been asked to harvest rainwater as a solution to predicted upcoming drought
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) which works on improving livelihoods of African farmers by transforming African agriculture from subsistence to strong business, has predicted a drier than usual season A for the October-December period for much of the Southern East African region in Rwanda.
According to the present seasonal forecasts for October to December 2021, in parts of the Southern Province and the districts of Bugesera, Kirehe, and Ngoma in the Eastern Province it is expected that amount of rainfall will decrease compared to the amounts received in the usual agricultural season A; from September to February and plant crops like maize, beans, cassava,Irish potatoes.
Farmers in those regions of Rwanda are highly encouraged by the Ministry of Agriculture to harvest and store enough rainwater for irrigation when the rains are not enough and to cultivate plants that grow faster and need less water to grow.
From the farmers’ point of view, they agree that the collection and storage of rain, rather than allowing it to run off, will be a good solution but collecting rainwater is not an easy thing as they haven’t done it before and their budget isn’t enough to build and maintain storage tanks. Further, they said that unless there is some kind of special support from the government, harvesting rainwater will be a tough call.
Therefore, to help farmers deal with challenges related to the predicted drier than usual weather forecast, the government considered a small-scale irrigation subsidy as one of the opportunities for farmers to tap into. The small scale irrigation technology (SSIT) program is also being run in Gatisbo, Kayonza, Kirehe, Bugesera, Ngoma, Nyagatare, Rwamagana, Huye, Gasabo, Kicukiro, and Nyarugenge Districts to provide a government subsidy to individual farmers, groups of farmers, or cooperatives with consolidated land between 0.5 and 10 hectares under agricultural use.
However, AGRA’s Food Security Monitor provides an overview assessment of the food security outlook in countries in East, West and Southern Africa, which says that the impact on food security will not be good if no action is taken for harvesting rainwater.