Kigali, Rwanda – Southwestern Rwanda is predicted to receive more rains in the first three months of the year than the previous years, according to the latest national seasonal forecast.
The outlook, released recently by Rwanda Meteorology Agency, covers January through March, an important period for farmers.
It forecasts “a chance of above-normal and normal rains over most parts of the country.”
“The national climate outlook for January to March 2020 season indicates that northwestern and southwestern parts of the country are likely to experience slightly enhanced rainfall (above average),” reads a part of the report.
The forecast warns of rainfall ranging between 400-500 millimetres expected in districts of Rusizi, Nyamasheke, Karongi, Nyamagabe and Nyaruguru.
Factors cited to influence the rainfall pattern are the increased water temperature in the Indian Ocean and cloud convergence over the region.
“The rainfall slight reduction is expected towards the end of the forecasting period,” continues the weather outlook.
‘Precautions should be taken’
According to the weather agency, the expected rainfall may affect post-harvest handling activities and ongoing infrastructure projects.
Speaking to The New Times, Mathieu Mbati Mugungu, the agency’s Division Manager of Weather and Climate Service and Application relieved that this season will not be disastrous as the last September to December year tide.
“Last season, we had the most rainfall in the last ten years. However, this time it is expected to keep raining in the western and southwestern part,” he said. “So, we call upon farmers to approach local agronomists to advise about crops appropriate to resist much water.”
Illuminée Kamaraba, the division manager for post-harvest handling and biotechnology at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) told The New Times that they have taken precautions to prevent and mitigate damages that might arise from the expected rains.
“RAB, in collaboration with districts, has a plan of constructing post-harvest infrastructure in Southern Province 137 drying facilities in total for the year 2019/2020 to support the drying process and 2 storage facilities whereby 78 drying and 1 storage facilities will be located in south-western part of the country,” said Kamaraba, adding that they are “pushing the constructors to accelerate the construction activities.”
Kamaraba also revealed that RAB plans to support some farmers in case of emergency especially in drying process with tarpaulins
Farmers, she advised, should prepare early the equipment needed during the post-harvest process among others sheetings, bags and threshing machines, and construct temporary shelters to hanging crops such as maize.
Infrastructure at risk
Mugunga also cautioned bodies in the infrastructure sector.
“People in charge of road construction should keep in mind that soil will still be wet, and carry out concrete projects so that even the slightest rain does not destroy everything.”
The weatherman reminded WASAC, a state-owned water handler that they should be ready to conserve the rainwater because it will be needed in the following, dry season when water is normally scarce.
During last December’s rains, all water processing plants in the country were down for more than 48 hours due to extreme turbidity, causing water shortage mainly in the capital.