Rwanda: Heavy Rains Damage Crops, Injure Seven Across Rwanda

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Heavy rains on Thursday, January 7 destroyed crops, infrastructure and injured seven people across the country.

The ministry in charge of emergency management said that disaster updates for 8th-9th January 2021, on Saturday morning, indicated that 14 houses, 20 hectares of crops, four classrooms, one transmission line, and a road section were damaged while four livestock were killed.

The damages were recorded in the districts of Nyamagabe, Gisagara, Gasabo, Kamonyi, Gatsibo, Rulindo, Nyanza and Kicukiro.

Damages from other districts were yet to be reported.

Farmers whose crops were affected told The New Times that they are counting losses.

Emmanuel Ndagijimana, the president of KOABIGA farmers' cooperative in Gasabo district said 14 hectares of vegetables and maize were damaged in the Kinyinya sector.

The cooperative had grown cabbages, amaranth, tomatoes, eggplants, maize and others on 120 hectares.

The floods, Ndagijimana explained, are caused by poor drainage along some roads close to wetlands.

"We are likely to lose 20 tonnes of tomatoes, four tonnes of eggplants and 10 tonnes of amaranth, he said.

The farmer said that they have challenges considering that insurance companies are afraid of insuring crops said to be prone to floods such as wetlands.

Gerard Habimana, the president of farmers' cooperative 'Jya Mbere Muhinzi Nyanza' in Nyanza district said that hails damaged ten hectares of pepper, four hectares of French beans, three hectares of eggplants, two hectares of tomatoes, seven hectares of maize, two hectares of beans and 0.6 hectare of soya beans in Rwabicuma sector.

He said the farmers are counting double losses following an exporter who fleeced their produce last year.

The cooperative supplied Rwf34 tonnes of chili worth Rwf24.2 million to Diversity Venture Company Ltd but only got a payment of Rwf2 million.

"We appeal for government support to help us recover from the losses and get seeds as well as another capital for next planting season," he said.

The disasters follow last week's warning by Rwanda Meteorology Agency which showed that Southwestern parts of the country are likely to experience slightly enhanced rainfall compared to the other parts of the country even though it is below the long-term meanwhile the remaining parts will experience normal rainfall.

It said the rains could affect post-harvest handling activities.

Farmers have been urged to ensure their crops and construct terraces while dwellers have been urged to harvest rainwater from their house roofs and do proper drainage.

Considering the previous disaster reports and related effects on agricultural commodity prices, if heavy rains continue throughout March, April, and May as last year, the same consequences could be faced.

A series of disasters destroyed at least 3,117 hectares of crops, between January and April in 2020.

Due to different factors including disasters, commodity prices in Rwanda increased by 11.5 per cent between July 2019 and July 2020, according to latest figures from the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR).

NISR explains that there was low production for commodities such as beans in the first agriculture season (Season A) of 2020 due to heavy rain, and flooding of some marshlands for rice plantations.

About 6,000 and 10,610.45 hectares of crops were respectively damaged in 2020 and 2019.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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