Livestock farmers in Eastern Province will effectively begin cultivating 30% of their land, the provincial authorities have announced after consultative meeting with stakeholders.
Over the past years farmers had been gradually abandoning dairy farming in favour of crop farming and authorities seemed caught in between the mixed farming trend.
“After noticing that livestock farmers were growing beans, maize, potatoes on grazing land in a disorganised way, we have decided to provide a proper framework,” Mufulukye Fred the governor of Eastern Province told reporters.
Mufulukye said that part of grazing land could be cultivated in an organised manner to produce better yields for the market and not only for subsistence.
“We want to ensure that the yields from the crops are high and would supplement to the income of these farmers,” the Governor said.
According to Mufulukye, previously livestock farmers were not allowed to grow any crops on grazing land except hybrid grass. But now they are allowed to cultivate 30% of their grazing land,” he said.
This decision was agreed on during a meeting that brought together Province officials including Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority and leaders from all districts in the province.
Why Livestock Farmers Resort to Cropping
President Paul Kagame In 2008 travelled to Eastern Province to oversee land redistribution exercise in the districts; Kayonza, Gatsibo, Kirehe and Nyagatare.
Some land was designated for livestock farming but 10 years later, the reality on ground has changed as cropping is becoming more profitable in returns compared to rearing livestock.
According to livestock farmers, the cost of managing livestock is very high compared to operating for example a banana plantation on the same land.
For instance in a period of 17 months, bananas can be ready for harvest at low cost and livestock farmers find this more profitable than rearing exotic cows.