The news coming out of Kamonyi in the Southern Province is that flower farmers are appealing to the district’s leadership to cut land rent figures from Frw5000 per hectare per month to Frw1000, regarding the 40 hectares they were given to carry out their horticulture activities.
The president of the flower farmers’ association, Gabriel Ndendabanga quoted exciting figures regarding the fast growth of the industry – 1,600 fully engaged members, and government earnings from flower exports to shoot to about $21 million by 2010.
This is a big number of citizens who are gainfully employed, and it is enlightening to learn of the progressiveness of this particular association that is even sending some of its members abroad to study more effective ways of operating. It is therefore paramount that they get maximum support from the government and other stakeholders in order to further the progress of their struggle to economic success.
It is good that government has already identified the capacity in which it can help; to wit, providing more land for the farmers to expand their agricultural activities. Local leaders should listen to the pleas by members to reduce the rent to a more manageable figure, since the association is engaged in activities that benefit not only themselves, but the government as well.
However, the association is running a business, and not a charity. Horticulture is an economic activity earning people big money, as is seen from their chairman’s figures, and it is not even debatable that since it is a business it should be subjected to the same conditions that all the other sectors go through. Rent is just one of the many.
The association should negotiate for a more reasonable figure basing on the going rates, and should not expect to get land gratis. Frw1000 a month is very little compared to the returns, and also what the district hopes to use it for in terms of getting the very many necessary social services needed by the very same people.
And this should be universal; investors are welcome, so long as they do not expect government to give away its very soul just so they can invest in Rwanda.