Individuals who illegally benefitted from the One Cow per poor family popularly known as ‘Gir’inka project’ have been ordered to return the cows with immediate effect.
The order was given yesterday by President Paul Kagame while addressing the 7th National Dialogue at Parliament .
“I am giving everyone who received a cow and yet they are not poor, a few days to to retun it immediately. I do not care how many Ministers have taken over the Ministry (of agriculture) since the project started. I simply want these cows to be given to the poor as originally planned,” he said.
Kagame’s stern warning was provoked by remarks from the Ombudsman, Tito Rutaremara, that the project which was meant to benefit the rural poor was instead benefitting local leaders.
“In a research done by my office, we found that the cows that were meant for the poor were instead going to those who had enough income to buy their own cows. What was supposed to be ‘Gir’inka poor family’ is now ‘Gir’inka local leader’,” he said
The President said that the cows were not a favour to the poor families, but their right.
“Leaders found to have wrongfully distributed these cows should also be held accountable,” he said. The Minister of agriculture, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, also informed the participants that of the 250,000 poor families who were supposed to benefit from the program, only 70.000 had been served.
To get to the bottom of the issue, Kagame put Mayors of Gicumbi, Nyagatare and Kamonyi to task to explain how the project was doing in their areas of juridisction.
“If the poor lack space where the cow can be reared, why can’t the neighbour who has the land help in rearing the animal and they both benefit from it?” the President asked, adding that what was needed was cooperation and good leadership for the project to succeed.
The Gir’inka project was initially set up to develop animal husbandry for milk and provision of manure to support crop production. Increased milk production was mainly targetting a reduction in levels of child malnutrition in the country.