June 17, 2024

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Kayonza Fruit Orchard: A Beacon of Hope in Drought-Prone Region

The impact of the Kayonza Irrigation and Integrated Watershed Management Project (KIIWP) on its beneficiaries is undeniable, as they attest to the transformation it has brought to their lives. With renewed hope for a brighter future, they credit the project for their newfound success.

In 2016, the Eastern Province of Rwanda was dramatically hit by a drought. More than 45,000 individuals became food insecure in the region, forcing the government to provide food and water. To mitigate future water-related calamities, the government of Rwanda in partnership with IFAD proposed the Kayonza Irrigation and Integrated Watershed Management Project (KIIWP). 

The KIIWP project aimed to tackle poverty in Rwanda’s Eastern Province by enhancing food security and increasing incomes for more than 40,000 rural households. Additionally, the project focused on building climate resilience in the region to ensure long-term sustainability.

This would be achieved through increasing production and productivity levels of climate-resilient foods and livestock while also improving market access and business development. 

The vast expanse of 1,300 hectares in Kabarondo and Murama, Kayonza District, along with a portion of Remera Sector in Ngoma District, is dedicated to cultivating a variety of fruits including avocado, lime, and mango. Currently engaging 4,000 individuals, Mayor Nyemazi John Bosco envisions expanding the project to benefit 40,000 people. With the completion of its initial phase, the fruit farm is now valued at an impressive $85 million.

In the sectors of Mwili and Murundi, 15 dams were built to provide cattle with water, and about 20 boreholes provide clean water to the people because the area is often affected by drought. About 50 cooperatives have been helped to develop agriculture and animal husbandry.

“We used to struggle with frequent droughts and a lack of rain, relying on food aid to combat hunger. The shortage of fruit seeds for planting was a challenge, but thanks to the government providing more, we have successfully overcome issues of hunger and malnutrition.”, Gahongayire Jeannette, a farmer from Kabarondo Sector, Kayonza District, said.

Gahongayire owns a plantation of different fruit trees that include more than 800 avocados, over 1500 orange trees, among others.

Their trees have reached the harvesting stage. From the avocado trees she has earned Rwf150,000 and she hopes her future will be brighter.

Ndayishimiye Theogene said,”They helped us plant fruits, allowing us to sell a portion of the harvest and provide for ourselves and our families. Now, we have money in our pockets. Life used to be complicated, and our children suffered from malnutrition. But now, they are growing well.”

The role of farmers in the implementation of the project appreciated

The Vice President of IFAD, Dr Mukeshimana Gerardine on the 21 May 22, 2024 visited Kayonza Irrigation and Integrated Watershed Management Project (KIIWP) where she appreciated the role of farmers in its implementation and how the fruit orchard is contributing significantly in poverty reduction in the drought-prone areas.

“IFAD is committed to working alongside the government of Rwanda to combat poverty and improve living conditions, but success ultimately depends on the determination of each individual. In addition to the existing initiatives, I urge you to seize every opportunity available. Rwanda has set ambitious goals to eradicate poverty and hunger, and we encourage every citizen to embrace and strive towards these objectives in their own homes.” she said.

The Vice President of IFAD, Dr Mukeshimana Gerardine addressing Kayonza Residents after the visit of KIIWMP activities

Eric Rwigamba, Minister of State for Agriculture and Animal Resources-Minagri, thanked the partnership between IFAD and the government of Rwanda through the entire process from the design to the implementation up to this point and “we look forward to more transformative projects.”

He encouraged the farmers to produce more and assured them that there isn’t any problem with the market.

“The market for these fruits is available in Rwanda and abroad. You know that we buy mangoes from our neighboring countries, but there are many countries outside that want our avocados,” Rwigamba said.

The Vice President of IFAD, Dr Mukeshimana Gerardine on the 21 May 22, 2024 visited Kayonza Irrigation and Integrated Watershed Management Project (KIIWP)
The project has supported farmers in planting different types of fruit trees
Eric Rwigamba, Minister of State for Agriculture and Animal Resources-Minagri
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