A $79.93 million (about Rwf71 billion) Kayonza Irrigation and Integrated Watershed Management Project (KIIWP) is expected to ensure food security and steady income for 50,000 households.
The project will be implemented in two phases, with the first phase costing at least $20.93 million (about Rwf18.7 billion), while phase two will cost $59 million (about Rwf53 billion), according to the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD).
On Saturday, speaking in Rome, Italy on the sidelines of FAO Conference, Gerardine Mukeshimana, the Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, and IFAD President, Gilbert F Houngbo, signed a $ 17.7 million (about Rwf15.5 billion) agreement to finance the first phase of the project.
The funding is a concessional loan with a maturity period of 40 years and a grace period of 10 years with an interest rate of 0.75 per cent interest rate, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning says.
The total IFAD loan for the project is expected to amount to about $43.4 million.
Based on the Ubudehe categorisation and consistent with the targeting strategy laid out in the Country Strategic Opportunities Programme, the project's direct target groups will comprise about 50,000 poor and food insecure rural households, which represent 225,000 persons who belong to the poorest Ubudehe categories , IFAD says.
The project will strengthen resilience to drought through investing in catchment rehabilitation, livestock and domestic water infrastructure development, and the establishment of efficient infrastructure management institutions.
Dr Sirikare Sylvestre, Research Fellow in Soil and Water Management at Rwanda Agriculture Board, and the Project Design Lead Scientist, said that it will consist of supplying water for livestock, catchment rehabilitation and protection of areas where rain fed agriculture is practiced, as well as carry out feasibility studies and Environmental Impact assessment studies for large irrigation schemes.
"The project will contribute to poverty reduction in the drought prone area of Kayonza District namely Gahini, Kabare, Kabarondo, Murama, Murundi, Mwiri, Ndego, Rwinkwavu. It will target about 50,000 poor and food insecure rural households," he said.
He said that the project timeframe is 30 months, and will start being implemented after being gazetted.
It will improve the resilience of smallholder farmers to droughts and effects of climate change through increased levels of production and productivity of selected food and cash crops, livestock and improved market access and business development, he said.
Under the project, strategic commodities that are central to the main livelihoods of farmers in Kayonza District, include paddy maize, potatoes, soya, as well as horticulture crops.
Some 58 per cent of all households are livestock farmers.