Rwamagana farmers seek to reclaim marshlands grabbed by wealthy livestock keepers

Residents in Rwamagana district have said they need to obtain the return of marshlands grabbed by livestock keepers so that they are turned into agriculture activities to be able to cope with hunger in the area.

They residents are from sectors of Kigabiro, Muhazi, Fumbwe and Gahenger.

These marshlands used to help farmers to get food during dry seasons by watering for their crops.

However they complain that some of them are not exploited remaining in the hands of  wealthy livestock keepers.

Innocent Hakizimana, one of the residents confirms that those wetlands used to support them curb hunger during dry periods.

“Most of wealthy people are livestock keepers. When they buy land nearby the wetlands, they set up pastures in these land and then annex   the part of marshland  to land they buy from residents. We unknowingly think that they have bought the marshland soil but we hear the marshlands are owned by government,” he said.

We to get part of the land so that we tell them during drought seasons. You realize that a part that could be exploited by 50 farmers, is only in the hands of a single rich livestock keepers, he complains.

Another resident who preferred anonymity said: “The marshland part known as kwa padiri was provided to people to cultivate it but he has a pasture to which he annexed that marshland part. There is another one called Modeste who has a part that used to be exploited by farmers but none can dare go to till the land because he grabbed it himself and annexed it to the land he owns in Cyahafi. He also grabbed all marshland soil that used to separate two cells of Cyahafi and Rutonde,”.

Residents also complain that another person took hold of the marshland called Rupfumfuri by excluding other farmers.

The district leaders confirm that there is land provided to farmers to be exploited into what was planned for it.

Regis Mudaheranwa, the vice mayor in charge of economic development   said  no resident was  deprived any land  to be provided to someone else but they were temporarily given land for suitable exploitation .

“ There is land  in Nyagasenyi cell given to residents for exploitation by preparing agriculture season but the land can even be cultivated during dry season because it is wetland,” he said adding that land which is not used by owners, they have been urged to exploit it  and if not it will be offered to those who can.

He stressed that those who own marshland soil, it could be examined and they might be deprived the land  by referring to the law and one stop center if they illegally possess it.

Although residents say their land was taken by others, the wetland soil is registered to government according to MP Nyirarukundo Ignatienne, leading agriculture commission in the parliament.

In a short interview with Bwiza.com on Thursday 25TH May, she said: “Marshland soil is registered to government property. Whoever has it in their hands should suitably exploit according to official plan especially agriculture. But if some have grabbed marshland soil and take them as their own land, the district leaders and one stop center should examine the issue and solve it,”.

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Irakoze Fred/bwiza.com

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