Described as a landlocked country, Rwanda has experienced droughts multiple times. Great region of Eastern Part of Rwanda faced a sunny season in the years of 2004-2008 than ever. Most recently, before and during the summer of 2016, the country has faced an ongoing sunny season which prevented farmers from cultivating. If climate keeps on changing, how would it be possible to survive in a country where, according to Rwanda Development Board, agriculture employs 86% of Rwandans, provides 90% of nation food needs, and generates more than 70% of revenues on exports? Ivomerere System is a solution to regions facing the world changing weather because farmers can use it in any season in order to irrigate fields. In that, farmers will be advised on how to store water by adopting wells and/or tanks during rainy season so that such water can be purified and used to irrigate plants during the sunny season. This will help farmers increase access to crops and food supplies on market in all seasons.
In order to bring an impact to large number of people living in developing and landlocked country, Rwanda, the end-users and beneficiaries of Ivomerere System are, but not limited to: youth, Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, cooperatives of agriculture, schools, and farmers who operate agriculture on small and large scales. The first pilot for Ivomerere was done at a secondary school in Rwamagana district, Eastern part of Rwanda. It seems like they have an improved irrigation system which uses pipes but it requires human intervention. For this school and other farmers with such kind of irrigation, they showed an interest to add Ivomerere system so that they can control irrigation process automatically. Other farmers will get a full kit of the system with technical support at no cost. Users will report problems they might face with the system and get support and/or replacement of the part that is not working.
Ivomerere System is designed to impact all groups of people who are operating irrigation in their agriculture and those who do not have means of irrigating their plants can use it as well. This is being said that subsistence farmers who are mostly referred to as poor and women who spend much of their time in the fields cultivating can benefit from this system. This is because the system allows users to track the process of irrigation without leaving their homes more often. The system sends a message to the users in order to be updated with its status, whether the water pump is ON or OFF. As a result, the system will save time for subsistence farmers and women. They will have enough time to do something else instead of staying in the fields all the time. Additionally, we will train youth on how to debug or troubleshoot technical issues with the training which in turn can make them be technical troubleshooters and innovators.
Rwanda’s farmers prefer to have Ivomerere system in their irrigation processes because they showed an interest in having the irrigation system that can save them water, money, time, and labour at the same time increasing food crops. In the real sense, the existing system requires them to circulate around the field in order to irrigate each individual plant. Ivomerere system is a full kit composed of water tank, water pump, and control circuit built in electronic devices. With Ivomerere system, pipes are installed in the field in which all plants have drips of water at the same time until the system detects the amount of water needed – they have to be set – and turns off water pump without human control. The system will again resume the process when crops are running out of the water.
So far, the system has been modified two times based on feedback received from farmers who are doing agriculture from different parts of the country, Rwanda. Not only the users who have been providing us with critical feedback but also policymakers have been giving us ideas on what to do to keep improving the system. The Ivomerere System can be adapted or utilised by any person and we strongly want to lend a hand to youth, women, and subsistence farmers who spend much of their time in the fields taking care of food crops. In Rwanda, it has been noted that women cultivate on the daily basis that men. Some of them are poor because they feed their families when they grow their own food crops. This is because men find means of lives from being manpower or traders. As a result, most subsistence farmers and poor people in Rwanda, greatly women, depend on agriculture and without an efficient agriculture, life is hard to achieve. Since the system doesn’t require human’s intervention, it is user-friendly to anyone, and youth included.