Precision, efficiency and accountability should be a priority in local leadership to help citizens make the most of available opportunities, local government minister, Prof. Anastase Shyaka has said.
He was addressing over 600 local leaders in Eastern Province Sunday who were attending a three-day retreat at Gishali Police Training School in Rwamagana District.
“This is a province with the largest cattle population (in the country). So, tell me, are you the ones with the most milk production?” he inquired.
“The answer is no. Are you the ones with most advanced transformation of livestock production? I would say no,” he added.
The Minister for Local Government, Prof. Anastase Shyaka, addresses local leaders from Eastern Province at Gishali Police Training School in Rwamagana District on Sunday. Photos by Jean de Dieu Nsabimana.
“Why? You have many cows, and huge tracts of land but look at the dairy production and its transformation”.
Shyaka argued that it is not just enough to have many cows or big land.
“This province is generally food basket of the country, but it should be the granary for agro-processing industries too,” he stated.
He stressed that opportunities were plenty in the province but the speed of transforming them into wealth was still slow.
Moreover, the minister added, the province’s geographical location is another opportunity that could be tapped into.
“Rwanda has four neighbouring countries; three of them share a border with your province. That should mean development, people movements and cross-border trade with the neighbouring countries,” he pointed out.
Cyprian Muhayimana, Director of Agriculture in Kayonza District, said they had 63,000 heads of cattle and, on average, a cow generates around one and a half litres per day, which astonished the minister and the audience.
In the neighbouring Rwamagana District, which has 18,000 cows, 38,000 litres are generatesd every day.
“Livestock farming in Kayonza is mostly traditional, that is why we put more efforts in improving their breeds to shift from traditional breeds to modern ones like Friesian and Jersey, among others.”
“Now the cows we provide through Girinka programme are improved breeds. Every year we set a target to artificially inseminate 4,000 cows,” he added, pledging to keep increasing the modern breeds that will bring more dairy production.
“We are certain that in five years we will have reached a good level,” he said.
“In two or three years, if you help farmers increase their milk production from two to six litres per cow, can you imagine the change that would be brought to their wellbeing and lives?” opined Shyaka.
The Governor of the province, Fred Mufulukye, said the retreat was an opportunity to talk straight and come up with decisions.
“Before this retreat, local leaders always wanted to talk about what was going well, yes, there are many positive things, but we said let’s now focus on our weaknesses,” he said.
“The retreat gave them time for self-assessment, opening up, and understanding the issues,” he added.
The governor said that not all failures are caused by lack of resources, but lack of responsibility, pursuing personal gains, and corruption among others.