Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has commended Rwanda for improving farmer’s livelihood through transformation of hillside agriculture using sustainable terracing practices.}
The Ethiopian leader who arrived in Rwanda on Thursday for a three-day state visit toured Kageyo sector, Gicumbi District, Northern Province to witness agriculture transformation and excellence in practice.
Desalegn who was accompanied by the Rwanda minister of natural resources including other senior government officials was given a presentation by the ministry of agriculture officials about hillside agriculture transformation in Gicumbi district Friday.
Farmers in the area have managed to practice sustainable agriculture activities and land management technologies, hillside irrigation, post harvest handing, marketing and rural finance which boosted agricultural productivity and incomes.
"This is quite impressive and educative. These are impressing agriculture practices which can help in turning marginal lands into productive agriculture fields," said Desalegn during the tour.
Land husbandry terracing works have enabled farmers to sustain cultivation and productivity on steep-slopes which has significantly reduced soil erosion whereby marginal and unproductive lands have been put back to productive use.
The practice was introduced in the country in 2010 to increase productivity and commercialization of hillside agriculture in some of the poorest areas in Rwanda.
Close to 100,000 hectares of land across hilly areas of Rwanda have been terraced which has given a boost to farmer’s agricultural productivity and improved incomes.
Speaking to reporters, Geraldine Mukeshimana, Rwanda minister of agriculture and animal resources said that hillside agriculture transformation has enabled small holder farmers in poverty stricken areas across Rwanda to increase crop production, improve livelihoods and incomes.
"The agriculture practices form part of our investment in the development of smallholder farmers so that they can move from traditional subsistence agriculture to commercial agriculture," She added.
Agriculture in Rwanda accounts for a third of the country’s GDP, employing about 80 percent of the total population. It contributes 33 percent of Rwanda’s domestic goods and exports.
The country’s second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy define a large number of programs in the agriculture sector including the intensification of sustainable production systems in crop cultivation and animal husbandry.