RUBAVU — The Minister of Natural Resource has set July 3 as the deadline for local leaders to have allocated plots in Gishwati to residents.
Stanislas Kamanzi issued the ultimatum recently while meeting leaders of all districts that share Gishwati forest. The districts include Nyabihu, Rubavu, Rutsiro and Ngororero. The meeting that took place at Kanama Sector in Rubavu District was aimed at assessing the land distribution process.
"There is no need for delay. Residents who were listed to get plots in Gishwati should immediately acquire it to start their productive activities. I call upon all the authorities to speed up the exercise to ensure plots are given to residents in time," Kamanzi said.
Rubavu Mayo Celestin Twagirayezu said that the responsible parties had completed the first phase of dividing safe zones in Gishwati into five acre-plots which are available for residents.
He said that the beneficiaries were already aware and knew their plots but there were no activities taking place because the district authorities hadn’t officially handed the plots over.
He advised land beneficiaries to properly use the land by avoiding activities that can lead to environmental degradation "The five acres are mainly for grazing cattle. And we expect people to carry out modern livestock farming by rearing exotic breeds which give out enough yields," said the mayor.
He asked residents who had big numbers of local breeds to get few exotic animals which can fit on the small pieces of land available and are capable of providing much more milk than the many local breeds. He said that the Government’s policy of ‘Gir’Inka’ was ready to secure market for their local cattle.
"We are doing this to protect the environment. We are trying to avoid the past mistakes. The mismanagement of Gishwati forest in the past years resulted into last years of floods in Bigogwe and Kanzenze which left 20 people dead and hundreds homeless," Twagirayezu explained.
The mayor said that although land in Gishwati wasn’t enough for all residents who applied for it, the district would allocate all of them pieces of land elsewhere. Livestock farmers without sufficient land should adopt zero grazing methods to help them generate income and fight poverty, he further advised.
Later after the meeting, the minister together with the district mayors inspected some of the demarcated plots. The land re-distribution follows last year’s restriction of farming in Gishwati by the Minister of State for Water and Mines Prof. Bikoro Munyanganizi.