GATSIBO – Residents of Rugarama sector in Gatsibo district have resisted the district’s directive to merge their plots of land to extensively grow rice.
In a meeting that brought together residents, district authorities and a team from the office of Ombudsman last week, local leaders met stiff resistance from the farmers even after being sensitized on the fact that the new farming methods would boost their livelihoods.
‘This is the new government’s policy of improving rural farmers’ welfare. You should start growing rice that will slightly increase your income instead of depending on unproductive subsistence farming,’ Mayor Anselme Majoro Rurangwa said.
However, the residents objected to the proposal, saying the shift would leave them short of food.
“How shall we be feeding our children before this rice is ready for harvest?” Leodomile Niyonsaba, one of the residents said. “The district should not simply take decisions without addressing our concerns.”
Quoting articles 29 and 30 of the law governing land, officials from the Ombudsman office reminded residents that citizens have full rights over their land but government reserves the right on its usage.
In a separate interview, the Mayor insisted that the new directive will have to be implemented.
“We are going to discuss further possible ways with residents and very soon their land will be used for rice growing,” he said.
The directive to all residents owning plots of land in Ntende valley was issued early this year.