NYAGATARE — Many residents in Nyagatare had no hope that President Paul Kagame’s promise of land to the landless would materialize.
When the president finally surfaced to preside over the first phase of the land re-distribution, it was time for dream comes true for many inhabitants of the so called land of milk. Many people say they thought it was a crazy idea as in Abraham Maslow words "every new idea looks crazy at first" but surprisingly it came true.
According to information from the office of Nyagatare district legal officer, 2227 people have already benefited from the re-distribution exercise including cultivators and livestock farmers.
Umutara has emerged from being seen as a land of milk only to a land of real hope for those who were desperate to acquire land for cultivation.
Yes at first land was just taken as cheap item. Previously many people who were given land abandoned it while others just sold it cheaply for quick money. But incidentally some are among the people giving the re-distribution commission hard time claiming that they had never received land.
It appears like fun but what is interesting is that the screening is being done by residents themselves considering who is eligible to acquire land. Priority is given to returnees from Tanzania, evictees from Gabiro Military School zone and other vulnerable people including people living with HIV/AIDS.
One beneficiary I met last week at farmers’ choice joint locally nicknamed Akaborozi, said "ee yamagambo ya perezida abaye inmpamo, ndimo ndabona ibintu bindenze kuva leta impaye ubutaka, ibi ntibisanzwe" loosely meaning- the promise of president Kagame has come true, I was wondering how a poor man can be given land by the state, thanks to our visionary leaders.
"Am one of the Rwandans who were evicted from Tanzania when everything was in shreds and my family tortured. Together with my family we were forced to return to our home country. Since the time we arrive we got a warm reception by the leadership and residents," he said.
"We felt at peace now they have given us land. This is a sign that Rwanda’s current leadership is pro-people and devoted to drive its citizens to a long lasting development."
The criterion applied in the screening exercise has been credited as transparent since fellow residents seconded beneficiaries.
The re-distribution puts to end complaints by residents who had been evicted from the military school land.
The main challenge however, to the new-land beneficiaries is to exploit the land to the maximum and increase the production.