Rice farmers in marshlands are feeling the pinch of higher taxes charged per hectare of land, which is undermining their potential to earn more revenues from farming. They are now appealing to the government to intervene and reduce the taxes.
A mini survey by Rwanda Today in Kirehe and Huye Districts, where rice farming is common shows different rates are charged on one hectare of marshland.
For instance, in Kirehe District and Huye District, the tax on marshland per season is Rwf60,000 and Rwf30,000 respectively.
It is this discrepancy that farmers say causes unfair competition between them and different regions.
According to the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), there are different rice types on 12,400ha of all marshlands in the country with average productivity of 5.8 tonnes per hectare.
However, farmers in Kirehe District told Rwanda Today that they feel cheated since they have pay twice that of other farmers on the same piece of land in the marshlands. This makes their produce uncompetitive.
“One hectare of marshland is taxed at Rwf60,000 per season apart from other costs incurred in the whole process of farming up to harvest,” said Flugence Bosenibamwe a rice farmer in Cyunuzi marshland, adding, “This is a major challenge because even after harvest the co-operatives have a tendency of taking long without paying us, yet we invested a lot in growing the rice.” “We appreciate what the government has done, for instance draining the marshlands to ease farming, but the tax is still very high, which makes it hard to us to gain from farming,” said Mr Bosenibamwe.
“ We are requesting the District Council (Njyanama ya Karere) to revise the cost for each hectare of land to enable us to gain from our efforts in rice farming,” he said.
Local rice produce is usually bought by co-operatives and other buyers in the country, but high costs of production hinder co-operatives from accessing the market after they buy from farmers.