RWANDA – Rwanda has received a US$74,138 grant from the Japanese government for the construction of Cyaruhogo marshland irrigation systems aimed to boost rice production in Rwamagana, New Times Rwanda has reported.

Rwamagana is a district in Rwanda’s Eastern Province, the largest rice-producing area contributing 40 percent of the national supply, according to country data.

The grant was signed by Isao Fukushima, the Japanese Ambassador to Rwanda, and Radjab Mbonyumuvunyi, the Mayor of Rwamagana District who commended the project for contributing to the agriculture sector which is a mainstay of Rwanda’s economy.

The Cyaruhogo marshland irrigation systems are envisioned to improve rice cultivation and the farmers’ livelihood of more than 3,000 people in the sector.

Rice is a priority food crop in Rwanda with national consumption estimated at 145,000 tonnes per year.

National supply accounts for about 40 percent, creating a 60 percent deficit that is met through imports, according to data from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM).

In 2020, Rwanda imported more than 120,270 tonnes of rice worth US$61.5 million (about Rwf60 billion) which surpassed the previous year (2019), where US$55.1 million was spent on importing 112,290 tonnes.

However, the government has been working towards increasing local production by diversifying to irrigation in a bid to shield itself from the high import costs.

“Irrigation is one of the most important components to enhance agricultural productivity in Rwanda and its expansion is set as a goal by 2024 in the Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture in Rwanda Phase 4”, said Fukushima.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Fukushima said that this project also aims to generate a synergistic effect with the Project for Water Management and Capacity Building (WAMCAB), under the support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) which started in 2019.

According to the press, the Japanese support is under the framework of Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP/Kusanone).

Under this scheme, the Government of Japan provides grants to NGOs, educational institutions such as schools, health institutions such as hospitals, and local authorities for their development projects at the community level

Fukushima welcomed the Rwamagana district’s great contribution to the project and called upon the people in the district to fully exploit the project to benefit from the new irrigation systems.

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