President Paul Kagame has urged Kirehe residents to work toward increasing agriculture productivity so as to achieve self-reliance.
The President was speaking on the second day of his tour of the Eastern Province.
Over 20,000 residents welcomed the President in Kirehe. The district tour began with a visit to Cyunuzi marshland which boasts 630 hectares of rice fields.
The rice fields employ 2,800 people as part of a local cooperative earning Rwf30 million annually.
President Kagame commended Kirehe residents for the progress the district has made and their commitment to transforming their lives.
Pointing out that there is no reason to produce under capacity, the President rallied local farmers to go beyond subsistence agriculture:
“We should be able to produce to feed ourselves and others. We should not accept to depend on others to be fed,” he said.
“You are capable of building on what you have to produce even more. As leaders,we pledge to facilitate maximum productivity,” the President added.
Citing farmers who have been able to increase their productivity, President Kagame called on the community not to settle for less and to learn from the best among them.
“Let us learn from the best among us to produce more collectively.”
Referring to the group of children who sang to welcome him to the district, President Kagame urged the present generation to work toward ensuring the next generation never has to be dependent on anyone but themselves.
“The children who sang for us here today should grow up to be in a position to help others not to be dependent on others,” the President said.
He committed to addressing the challenges facing Kirehe including increasing access to electricity from the current rate of 17 per cent of residents.
Among other issues of concern were substandard and dilapidated classrooms in the district, but he said, he had instructed those concerned to urgently devise how they could be repaired.
Theopista Nyiramahoro, a resident, expressed gratitude for some of the government sponsored projects that have helped transform her life.
“I am one of the beneficiaries of ‘Women can do it’ training which empowered many women with skills that have benefited me a lot. By the time I acquired the training I was selling tomatoes earning just Rwf10,000 a month,” Nyiramahoro said.
“I invested in a motorcycle and later expanded my business and joined my fellow women and we started a coffee farming cooperative which today has 582 members who will soon receive their dividends amounting to Rwf80 million,” she added
Meeting opinion leaders
The night before the Kirehe visit, President Kagame met with hundreds of Eastern Province opinion leaders for a discussion on challenges facing the province.
Among the major challenges, President Kagame expressed deep concerns over cases of human trafficking, saying Rwanda will use all means to put an end to the practice.
Recently, Rwanda National Police (RNP) announced that about 150 Rwandan girls have fallen victim to human traffickers in the past five years.
Articulating the seriousness of human trafficking, Kagame said Rwandan girls cannot be sold like property. He shed light on the routes used in trafficking girls, saying a number of them had ended up in Uganda, Zambia and China.
“Those involved in human trafficking should know that we will do everything possible to stop them. We will prove to them that it’s a wrong path and an extremely risky venture for them,” the President said.
He told opinion leaders that the first step in fighting human trafficking was to acknowledge that it exists.
“We must make it very difficult for the traffickers to operate on our territory,” the President said.
He also urged opinion leaders to take advantage of all available opportunities to move the country forward.
Part of the opportunities he cited included the district’s agricultural potential as well as the northern corridor railway that will link Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.
He said the railway would benefit many businesses in the province and urged them to exploit it.
Eastern Province is the largest with a population of 2.5 million and borders Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania.
The President informed the leaders that during his recent visits abroad, he met with leaders who expressed interest in large scale export of rice, wheat, and beef.
However, he said they needed to multiply their efforts and increase productivity as it was the only way they could benefit from the opportunities.
Ending his visit to Eastern Province, Kagame thanked both leaders and citizens for their hard work in transforming the nation.
“Encouraged by the development and dynamism I have seen in Nyagatare and Kirehe in these two days. Visible progress in last 5 years,” President Kagame tweeted at the end of the day.