Korea will continue to support Rwanda's socio-economic development, especially through information communication technologies to optimise farm productivity, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Vice President for Africa, Middle East and Latin America programs has said.
Baek Sook Hee made the observation on Friday as she visited Kajevuba Marshland in Gasabo District, Kigali.
From 2016 it has been used by farmers to grow horticultural crops including green beans, (also known as French beans) beetroots, tomatoes, cabbage, and egg plants among others.
Its interventions include controlling marshland flooding and soil erosion, and irrigation system to tackle issues of limited production due to the dry season.
The marshland was developed as part of Rural Community Support Project to increase farmers' agricultural productivity and raise their income.
The project cost $12.5 million (about Rwf10 billion) of which KOICA contributed $11 million.
Its implementation runs from December 2014 through December 2019, according to information from the project management.
Sook Hee said that Rwanda has a big agenda to develop the rural area because around 70 percent of the population live by agriculture, but their income is very low. She pointed out that developing ICT initiatives will spur the economic development of Rwanda as a small and landlocked country.
"So, the first thing is to support the development of the agriculture sector by providing new agricultural technologies and extension services," she said citing irrigation technology for efficient use of water for farmers to sustainably produce food.
"We have another project we are preparing to support Rwanda's agriculture sector because it is the key issue to move the country from least developed countries to middle-income countries. If we don't develop the agriculture sector, we cannot reach that goal," she said.
She did not reveal details about the project, indicating that it was still under discussion between KOICA and the government of Rwanda.
Rwanda Agriculture Board Director General, Dr. Patrick Karangwa, said KOICA is one of Rwanda's main partners in agriculture sector as it provides support for development of marshlands in various districts.
"We as beneficiaries, have responsibility to continue protecting and taking care of these infrastructures so as to keep reaping benefits from them for many years to come," he told Gasabo residents.
The current project has developed 710 hectares of marshland including 65 ha at Kajevuba Marshland and 23 ha at Ruzigambogo in Gasabo District.
It is implemented in other areas; Ruterana in Muhanga District; Kanyonyomba in Gatsibo District; Rwinkwavu in Kayonza District; Bwanya in Gicumbi and Gatsibo Districts and Gakenke in Gakenke District.
The project provided farmers with horticulture skills as well as how to make compost to fertilise their crops for improved yields among other things.
Vestine Mukabunane, one of the beneficiaries from Gasabo District, grows horticulture crops on 2.5 Ares (about 250 square metres). She said that she invested Rwf25,000 to grow green beans on the same farmland, and she expects to harvest 350 kilogrammes. With a kilogamme costing Rwf300, that is about Rwf105,000 within two months.
"Before this project, I used to grow sweet potatoes, which mature after six months. And, only about 200 kilogrammes can be harvested from the same land. Yet, a kilogramme is Rwf80".