In Rwanda, the agriculture sector is steadily growing at 5.8% per year, accounting for about 33% of GDP, employing about 68% of the labor force, and generating 90% of the national food requirements. Around half of the country is covered by hills, and between them are streams and marshlands. Rwanda has 589,711 ha of irrigation potential out of which 47% is on marshlands and 63% is on hillsides, however only 7.5% has been successfully developed to date. The prevalent low productivity rain-fed crop production is worsened by the effects of climate change, like droughts or short heavy rains often causing flash floods. To sustain cultivation and productivity on such steep-slopes, comprehensive climate smart watershed management has become a necessity, not a choice.
SAIP consolidates and expands results from the Land Husbandry, Water Harvesting, and Hillside Irrigation Project (LWH) and other projects focused on the sustainability and self-reliance of farmers’ organizations, cooperatives, and rural institutions that provide services to farmers, who are the main drivers of rural development. The project strengthens the capacities of existing farmers’ organizations and public extension services, strengthens agricultural value chains, and emphasizes post-harvest handling, processing, and marketing systems and linkages with the private sector. The project also scales up irrigation activities and increases irrigation outreach, increases the availability and consumption of nutritional foods, diversifies income-generation means, and supports rural financial institutions to provide services. To improve nutrition outcomes among project beneficiaries, the project collaborates with the Government’s National Early Childhood Development Program and community health workers to implement a nutritional social and behavioral change communication (SBCC) strategy, using cooking demonstrations to educate beneficiaries on how to attain a balanced and affordable diet. SAIP focuses on the following value chains: vegetables and fruits for the domestic, regional, and international markets; maize and Irish potato for domestic and regional markets; and beans for domestic markets.
- Climate Change
- World Bank
As of December 30, 2020, the project has benefitted 187,517 people (42 percent women), against an end-of-project target of 200,000. SAIP also has provided improved production support to 7,825 hectares of land area and productivity enhancement support to 34,285 smallholders and has reconstructed and/or rehabilitated two maize drying shelters and nine cold rooms as a part of the post-harvest support, contributing to 12,483.41 metric tons of agricultural production processing. The project has continued to strengthen the capacities of water users’ associations to ensure their sound management and adequate scheme operation and maintenance. As a result, since July 2020, the number of farmers paying water fees lightly increased by 1 percent to 68.2 percent and voluntary community works to maintain schemes have slowly resumed by following measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. To enhance farmers’ skills and crop productivity, SAIP has conducted a training of trainers on good agriculture practices and seed multiplication for 1,639 lead farmers (43.2 percent women) from 18 cooperatives growing Irish potato, beans, maize, onions, watermelon, tomatoes, and chilis. The combination of training and technical coaching provided through partnerships with Rwanda Youth Agribusiness Forum, World Food Programme, and buyers has contributed to the increased productivity of Irish potatoes from 13.8 to 14.97 tons per hectare, maize from 2.2 to 2.8 tons per hectare, and beans from 1.2 to 1.8 tons per hectare. The project also promoted the production of mushrooms rich in potassium, zinc, and iron by providing spawns to 452 households with pregnant and lactating women and children under five years of age. Finally, on the nutrition front, 2,106 project beneficiaries have taken part in activities rolled out under the SBCC strategy.
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