The government subsidies on irrigation and fertiliser have been rendered ineffective after majority of farmers declined to take them up.
Mbonimana Samuel wakes up early morning to irrigate his onions garden located right on the foot of Lake Mirayi in Bugesera District.
Together with his wife they strenuously fetch water using watering cans, which they use to irrigate their crops, yet not far from their garden, at the Gashora sector lies an opportunity to secure a water pump at a subsidised price.
“There still many hindrances in accessing these subsidies, first of all they are given to someone who owns land up to a hectare, it looks like the subsidy is for those who are already rich.”
“The contribution even for the subsidized pump is also still beyond my reach, I would have to sale my piece of land to raise that money” he said.
The government through the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) avails subsidized irrigation pumps, where farmers who own land near a water source only have to pay 50 per cent of the cost.
But for those who go for leasing can only access the subsidised pumps if they take them for at least three years.
For seeds and fertilizers farmers contribute up to 25 per cent.“Raising 50 per cent of the cost of pumps for small scale irrigation has proved to be a problem for many farmers, same applies for the 25 per cent for fertilizers, we are trying to loop in banks so they can service these subsidies on so loans” said Charles Bucagu, the Deputy Director General of RAB.
He says although the subsidy policy has been a success, more needs to be done so it can scale, and even reach all the intended beneficiaries.
He said they are trying out a new model where a private service provider will apply for the irrigation equipment subsidy and will be working directly with the farmers, in the way of irrigating for them.
Right next to Mbonimana’s onion garden, is a large-scale government irrigation project, which comprises a large pump and many pipes, but the project lay a white elephant.
When Rwanda Today asked why it is not being used, the farmers said they couldn’t afford the fuel needed to power the pump.