Players call for specific law governing agriculture to address sector challenges

Tea farmers from nyaruguru district. File.

Stakeholders in the agriculture sector are advocating for the enactment of a law governing and regulating the sector to help address the different issues facing competitive productivity and professionalizing of the sector.

Speaking to The New Times, Joseph Gafaranga, the Secretary-General of Imbaraga Farmers Organisation, said that lack of legislation affects agriculture and livestock in various ways including “farmers not making enough investment in agriculture because they have no law to protect them, they are not assured of the rights they are entitled to.”

This problem, he added, is ascribed to the fact that there are no clear criteria that one should meet to be qualified a farmer, pointing out that some support from government or other funders might end up in the wrong hands.

Gafaranga added that such a law would firmly leave the farmers and other concerned entities in charge of the sector development accountable, adding that under the current circumstances, there seem to be no ownership on the part of farmers.

“Imagine a situation where farmers don’t grow crops for two years and no law is in place to hold them accountable, the implication is that we would lack produce, yet there are seeds and other inputs which were developed for cultivation,” he said.

He added that ample planning is necessary to increase farm yield.

“Know who will implement which agriculture targets, having a database of the farmers and monitoring them, and ensure effective implementation of farming targets,” he said.

As members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Environment was meeting officials from the ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) last week, MP Albert Ruhakana said that there is a law governing environment in Rwanda, yet, no law governing agriculture and livestock which is the main sector for livelihoods of about 70 percent of Rwandans.

“It is that law that would ensure that we abide by set regulations. I think all that we plan without a law providing for them, will be difficult to implement,” he said.

He voiced concerns over low budget allocated to research in the agriculture and livestock research.

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Jean Claude Musabyimana said that the ministry was ready to talk with concerned players including farmers about that legislation.

He however said that ample consultation is needed to look into the rationale of having that legislation and how it will be implemented.