Farmers around water bodies have raised the red flag over losses caused by roaming hippopotamus.
Despite observing the 50-meter buffer zones from the water bodies, the hippos are always finding their way into farms.
The government set up the Special Guarantee Fund in 2011 for different kinds of compensation, among them victims of damages caused by animals, “All our past six out of nine farms have been destroyed by hippopotamus coming from Rumira lake,” Alexis Musabirema, the cofounder of the Exodus Farm Ltd, whose farming activities are located in Rilima sector of Bugesera district, told Rwanda Today.
According to farmers, invasion of their farms by the animals has an impact on quality of crops.
“If a hypo crosses for instance from the tomato parcel that has been sprayed with chemical and comes into the French beans, it brings those chemical substances which ruin the quality of the products,” Christian Kayinamura, the managing director of Green Modern Farm told Rwanda Today.
“With every tree producing at least four kilos of green French beans, last time the hippos came in and destroyed at least five tonnes,” he added.
The farmers said the rates of compensation at the special guarantee fund are the most disheartening thing while they lodge a complaint with the fund to cover the destroyed crops.
“We lodged a complaint with the special guarantee fund in March as the hippopotamus have ravaged a plot of 300 square meters, but the special guarantee fund came back in August with compensation of around Rwf14, 000 plus Rwf10, 000 said to be the cover of the transport, as they calculated only the quarter of the plot, while for the inter plot the compensation was only Rwf54,000, yet we have spent at least Rwf40,000 within the process of lodging the complaint,” Dieudonne Niyodushima, the co-founder of The Exodus Farm Ltd.
“We have been discouraged to keep claiming with the second two plots that have been recently ravaged, as what we spend on claiming is way higher than what the fund was willing to compensate,” he added.
The government blame information gap for delays in compensation of under valuation of destroyed farms.
“During the start of the compensation exercises, we did a study which determined what to compensate and how we should carry the compensation exercise,” Joseph Nzabonikuza, director-general of Special Guarantee Fund told Rwanda Today.
“Starting from the information provided by the local administration, we do general calculations, not an individual calculation but the region that may be analysed case by case. We get yielding rates from the Rwanda Agriculture Board and National Institute of statistics and we cross-check with the market prices, and those very persons may have not explicitly mentioned that the French beans are exported, and someone who is compiling the information may have recorded beans in the system,” he added.
Mr Nzabonikuza indicates that the fund’s compensation rates are calculated on the expected production.
According to the farmers, while the animals normally come out of the water to destroy crops during the dry season, forcing farmers to shift their farming activities to nearby water bodies, where they can get water for irrigation, thus the profit-making venture is gradually becoming a loss-making one.