Govt repossesses unexploited land from 20 farmers

L-R: Minister Mukeshimana, Governor Mufulukye and Gen Mubarak Muganga, the RDF Division commander for the City of Kigali and Eastern Province at the meeting with residents. Jean de Dieu Nsabimana.

Government has repossessed the farmland it had given to 20 farmers in Eastern Province, citing poor farming practices and failure to make it productive.

Those who lost the land are mainly government officials who are part of the people that received farmland from government during the 2008 land redistribution exercise in Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Kayonza and Kirehe districts.

Officials in Eastern Province did not specify the size of the land that was repossessed and the names of the farmers who lost their land in the process, but said it is reserved for livestock farming.

The decision, officials told The New Times, is aimed at boosting dairy and beef production as government intends to give the pastureland to people who can make it more productive.

The land in question is located in Gatsibo, Nyagatare and Kayonza districts.

According to officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Eastern Province, those who lost the land had failed to meet government demands of bush clearing, fencing and land title registration.

“The aim is to raise crop and livestock production. It is not right for people to own land for over ten years without making it productive,” the Minister of Agriculture, Geraldine Mukeshimana, said.

The Governor of Eastern Province Governor, Fred Mufulukye, said the action is an outcome of a commission established months ago to monitor how land that was redistricted in the province was being used.

Theoneste Muhumuza, a farmer from Murundi Sector in Kayonza District, said failure to develop the land was hurting other farmers. 

“I am one of the people who took time to talk to fellow farmers many times, I even submitted a list of people whose land was not being exploited accordingly, I passed it over to sector, and cell leaders and some people form the commission,” he said, adding that his list contained 47 farmers from one village.

“But the most important thing is that at least 15 of them have since improved their farms,” he added,

Article 44 of the land law states that; “In case the lessee does not comply with the lease contract obligations other than those stipulated in article 38 of this Law, the lessor may terminate the lease after a written warning notice of fifteen (15) working days without any other formalities.”

Governor Mufulukye explained that the Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority has already officially written to the lessees notifying them that their rights to the lands had been withdrawn.