Karongi farmers upbeat over land consolidation policy

KARONGI – The decision to encourage cultivation of particular crops on consolidated pieces of land is largely beneficial to farmers and the general public alike.  The impact in terms of food production and income generation is enough evidence attesting to this fact despite reservations amongst the rural population.
Farmers cultivating on a farm under land consolidation programme. The New Times / File.
Farmers cultivating on a farm under land consolidation programme. The New Times / File.

KARONGI – The decision to encourage cultivation of particular crops on consolidated pieces of land is largely beneficial to farmers and the general public alike.

The impact in terms of food production and income generation is enough evidence attesting to this fact despite reservations amongst the rural population.

A farmer in Karongi District, Pascal Mugabo, chose to plant tea on his two hectare farm to support the ongoing large-scale tea plantation project.

He is optimistic that his decision would play a part in increasing tea production, while assisting in the creation of more jobs.

“Bringing together small and fragmented pieces of land can facilitate the adoption of new agricultural technologies, leading to a more prosperous and efficient agricultural sector,” Mugabo noted.

He added that some of the other benefits from land consolidation include increase in gross income of farmers and a reduction in the working hours in the field. “This has subsequently improved the lifestyle of rural farmers and the local population in general,” he observed.

Unlike Mugabo, some residents are still hesitant to embrace land consolidation.

“I think mixed farming on small-scale is the best way to enable an average household to get essential requirements for daily survival,” argues Albert Uwayezu, a shop attendant in Karongi town.

In the Western Province, however, there is optimism, especially among local leaders, who encourage residents to back the campaign.

According to Fabien Safari, the agricultural officer in Karongi District, tea has been planted on 2,000 hectares of land to pave way for operations of a factory recently established in the area.

“The factory is already fully equipped and we look at the existence of the tea plantation as a major boost,” Safari said. He disclosed that this season, maize that has been planted on 5,883 hectares of consolidated land is expected to yield over 15,000 tonnes.

Similarly, about 13,000 tonnes of beans will be harvested this season following the land consolidation strategy.

With the availability of inputs such as fertilizers, Safari predicts that the seasons to come are likely to be even better, the existing challenges notwithstanding.

“There is a period when a disease outbreak forces retardation in production. In such situations, farmers find it difficult to continue with the programme,” Safari pointed out.

He said that despite easy availability of fertilisers, farmers do not have the capacity to immediately acquire them, adding that a programme to facilitate the farmers to get financial support to purchase fertilisers is underway.

Despite the mixed reactions that have been drawn by the new policy, potential entrepreneurial farmers are happy with crop the results of specialisation where selected crops are planted depending on suitability of particular land.

sam.nkurunziza@newtimes.co.rw

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