This Wednesday 24, 2017, I made my time, with my fellow 14 Journalists, to visit farmers in the Southern Province’s Kamonyi District. My focus was to see how farmers are ready for agriculture transformation—through application of various good farming techniques so as to improve yields.
We arrived in Rukoma sector, Remera Cell at around 11:17am, where some 37 farmer-promoters we were supposed to meet were in a group with a dynamic mood. After introducing ourselves to them, they took us to their cassava plantations in order to provide us with information on farming practices, after which we had a fruitful exchange.
[Photo] Farmer-promoters welcoming us
Emmanuel Rukundo, the President of those farmers, grouped in a cooperative, told us how they initiated that idea consisting of supporting farmers to advance their agricultural activities.
"After gaining from training as farmer promoters, we decided to start our farming-based cooperative, and we currently have this one-hectare cassava plantation," he said pointing out that they need to expand their farmland and activities this farming season.
"On my side, I was a motorist, I now have driving license in my pocket, I decided to leave such business and turn my focus onto farming activities. I realised how it is more profitable than what I used to do," he added.
[Photo] Mr. Rukundo is no longer Motorist, but a farmer
Saidath Kankundiye, the member of the same cooperative, told us how they significantly improved their agricultural practices to become more productive as we also witnessed.
They also told us how at the end of this year, they are planning to be having equipment for small scale irrigation as means to ensure their resilience against climate change. However, they expressed that Effective irrigation is not easy, but possible because the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal resources provide subsidy of 75% on needed facilities.
"I have a piece of land as large as 2a near my house. Before the training, I used to grow many crops including maize, beans, and potatoes all mixed together. As a result, I produced for only household consumption, but after being trained, for example, the previous season I decided to grow only maize and I produced 120 kilogrammes in which I took 80Kg to the market and reserved 40Kg for family consumption. I can’t now buy cassava flour,“ she said.
After an hour of a helpful conversation, we shifted to Buguli cell—not a short distance because we arrived at 1:00pm—to visit another farmer. We met Mrs Josephine Mukansine at his residence where she owns 1.70 ha of banana plantation.
As we departed to this farmer’s residence, the Sector Agronomist, who was together with us, called the farmer by phone to remind him well where her activities are located. It seems like he was not getting well the direction, which shows a weak collaboration between farmers and technicians in charge of agronomic services.
At arrival, she shared with us some experience on how agriculture transformation is possible, but underscored that it needs investment of time, money and efforts.
[Photo] Mrs. Mukansine in her banana plantations
My final destination was at Mwirute Cell of the same Kamonyi district where I arrived at 2:00pm. There, we met a big farmer and investor, Mr. Jean de Dieu Uwimpuhwe with 2ha having 1,650 banana which are still in an early growth.
Mr. Uwimpuhwe started the implementation of his project at the end of last year, he planned to gain from sale of banana harvest, and banana sucker multiplication using his green houses.
Now his project is worth Rwf35 million. He is now employing 8 permanant people, and more than 80 temporally employees. Lesson to learn from this farmer is to take time before practicing any farming activity, plan for it and have a vision, then invest because "Every good production require investment".
[Photo] Mr. Uwimpuhwe has also planned for irrigation system for his banana plantations
My beautiful day with farmers ended at 3:25pm, and my lesson learnt is this: "Farmers we met have some experience on farming activities, but, their knowledge on the Ministry’s vision and new technologies is still moderate, especially for small scale farmers; they only need frequent consultations by agriculture technicians from grassroots to the highest level in order to maximise farm yields".