NYAGATARE - President Paul Kagame yesterday hailed Eastern Province residents for cooperating with the government in the promotion of land reforms and redistribution programmes which have yielded positive results.
Addressing thousands of residents of Nyagatare District who gathered at Rukomo Sector, President Kagame said that the land redistribution programme is responsible for the progress in development that is visible throughout the whole province.
Kagame who had earlier visited development projects in the area including an Agriculture Mechanization Dairy Project, run by Akayange Development Cooperative in Karangazi Sector had returned to the Province to study the impact of the land redistribution programme he launched early last year.
He lauded the people of the province for the hard work and goodwill they have exhibited which has transformed the area into one of the richest parts of the country, with visible developments including good houses, roads, modern farms and stable incomes.
He told residents that land redistribution was not only for allocating available land equally, but was also a way of ensuring that the available land is utilised to the maximum by employing modern farming methods to turn productivity around. He added that what matters is not the size of the land but how it is utilised.
Kagame urged the residents to change and start growing improved high yield crops, using fertilisers, water harvesting and rearing exotic breeds of cattle which are more productive than the local breeds.
He cited an example of the cooperative he had earlier visited in Karangazi whose members sold off thousands of their less productive local cattle, to buy a few exotic cows that each produce over 30 litres of milk on a daily basis.
The cooperative is made up of about 20 farmers. According to the Agriculture Minister Christophe Bazivamo, the redistribution process which created 981 farms of not more 25 hectares out of the 42,500 hectares of land has registered a number of successes.
“What we have really achieved out of this is changing peoples mindset of believing that the more cows you have, the higher the chances of having high yield,” Bazivamo told members of the press at Akayange Dairy Farm.
The modern farm boasts of over 500 heads of Friesian cows whose owners initially had hundreds of non-productive local breeds.
The cooperative now owns a fleet of modern farm machinery including tractors, hay choppers and water tanks which they use on the farm and also rent out to other farmers.
The President assured the farmers that the government will ensure that the milk processing plant at Nyagatare is fully operational to add value to their product.
The Nyagatare Milk Processing Plant co-owned by the Government, Farmers Cooperatives, the Rwanda Development Bank and several other investors, has the capacity to process 40,000 litres of milk on a daily basis but has been bogged down by technical problems and managerial inconsistencies.
The plant only produces 5,000 litres daily at the moment.
The President also shared and interacted with residents at Rukomo where he addressed a number of concerns stemming from land and infrastructure development. He assured the residents of Rukomo and Rwimiyaga of electricity supplies to support their development projects.
Nyagatare District is one of the leading livestock rearing areas with over 16,500 exotic cows distributed in the area through the Girinka Programme.
The District also produces 82,000 cows for beef annually. Today Kagame is expected to visit Kirehe and Ngoma districts also in the Eastern Province.