11 July 2018

Rwanda: City Vegetable Farmers Seek to Exploit Idle Marshlands

Farmers currently growing vegetables in a marshland in Gasabo District, Kigali City want to be permitted to exploit other idle agricultural marshlands.

The farmers grouped under 'Juru Cooperative' have planted over 100 varieties of vegetables most of which came from China, Korera, Vietnam, India which they multiply and distribute.

But they risk being evicted any time because the valley they currently use is in the Nyarutarama area - which connects the sectors of Kacyiru and Remera - is set to be turned into a recreational park, including a man-made lake.

It is commonly known as 'Kwa Nyagahene' after city businessman Eugene Nyagahene, who about 10 years ago, attempted to build a recreational park in the area but later abandoned the idea.

The area, which is right below King Faisal Hospital and near the country's main golf course by Kigali Golf Club, covers 76 hectares of land that includes 26 hectares of dry area and 50 hectares of wetland.

Clément Usabyemungu, the advisor to the cooperative told The New Times that they need at least five hectares for sustainable vegetable growing in marshland so that they increase supply to residents, markets, restaurants and hotels in the city.

"We are requesting for five hectares which are part of idle agricultural marshland between Nyarutarama, Kibagabaga and Nyabisindu sectors so that we can grow vegetables, build our own vegetable shop and supply markets," he said.

He said that they use manual watering cans to irrigate vegetables during the dry season adding they are also contemplating buying irrigation equipment once they get sustainable agricultural land.

Kigali city pledges support

Parfait Busabizwa, the vice Mayor in charge of economic development in Kigali city told The New Times that the farmers should organize themselves so that the city and other partners considers relocating them to another marshland that is meant for agricultural purposes.

"Nyagahene Marshland is for a recreational park where the lake is expected to be expanded. So farmers should be ready to relocate," he said.

"We are gradually developing such idle wetlands so that similar cooperatives can exploit them mostly by growing vegetables. We have parts of wetlands that are still idle such as the stretch from Nyagisenyi, Kabuye towards Kibagabaga and such farmers can get access to it," he said.

An inventory of marshlands conducted in 2008 by Rwanda Environment Management Authority through the Integrated Management of Critical Ecosystems showed that Rwanda has 867 marshlands covering a total surface area of 278,536 ha of which 53 per are tillable wetlands.

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