RWANDA – In a move to bolster food security and tackle soaring food prices, Rwanda plans to assign all idle plots of arable land across the country for agricultural cultivation.

Ildephonse Musafiri, the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources revealed this while addressing the Lower House during a plenary session last week.

He was responding to concerns about soil erosion and the underutilization of terraced land, which has been adversely impacting crop yields throughout the nation.

Musafiri explained that this measure is part of the government’s strategy to address land under dispute, including land that remains uncultivated, by offering it to nearby farmers to cultivate crops that can be harvested by February 2024, such as maize, rice, beans, and potatoes.

He emphasized that the fact that land is entangled in disputes does not render it unusable, as it can be productively employed by lending it to residents on a seasonal basis.

The Minister stressed that the primary objective is to ensure that the nation does not lose the potential food production of the 2024 farming season, which commenced in September 2023 and will conclude in February 2024.

This decision is being carried out in collaboration with local leaders and has already been implemented for the current farming season.

“We want to see all unexploited land, whether owned by the state or private individuals, cultivated in an unconventional manner during this ongoing farming season,” Musafiri declared.

He also mentioned that landowners should not be surprised if they learn that residents have begun tilling their land in a particular district whenever the owner fails to indicate their readiness for farming.

Members of Parliament (MPs) expressed their support for this initiative, recognizing its alignment with efforts to combat food inflation and attain food security.

Regarding the criteria for allocating land to residents, Musafiri explained that they will approach landowners and request that the land be utilized for food production.

In cases where owners are unwilling or unable to do so, the land will be temporarily assigned to residents who are prepared to cultivate it.

MPs, however, urged the ministry to address soil erosion to achieve the desired outcomes as well as underscored the necessity of providing residents with the requisite seeds to ensure optimal crop yields.