Kagame cracks the whip on chia seeds scam, sends minister home

Saturday April 08 2023

Former Agriculture Minister Eraldine Mukeshimana. Picture:File


The chia seeds scandal, which an angry President Paul Kagame recently termed as a pyramid scheme, has claimed the Agriculture Minister's job.

The scam in which many people, including high-ranking government officials, gave large sums of money to Akenes and Kernels Ltd to invest for them with a promise of getting a windfall in profits, has claimed the job of Eraldine Mukeshimana.

Last week, President Kagame fired agriculture Ms Mukeshimana, who has been at the helm of the ministry since 2014, replacing her with Dr Ildephonse Musafiri.

This came a few days after the president castigated certain high-ranking government officials for partaking in the ‘dubious’ chia seed investment scheme, which an angry head of state likened to a pyramid scheme.

After large sums of money had been injected into the chia seed investment scheme, it crumbled and many lost their money, which attracted multiple lawsuits against the company as people tried to recover their money.

Sources indicate that the manner in which the former minister handled the chia seed issue marked the end of her tour of duty at the Ministry.


While in a meeting convened by all parties involved in the chia seed saga late last year, Ms Mukeshimana said that it was not clear whether the money that investors gave to Akenes and Kernels Ltd to invest in chia seeds farming was used for that purpose.

She made a distinction between the two categories of people who were affected by the chia seeds issue, those who gave the company money so that it carries out farming on their behalf and pay them money with a profit.

And those who bought seeds, planted and then supplied chia seeds to Akenes and Kernels Ltd, and both groups suffered losses.

During the recent Umushyikirano-accountability meeting for government leaders, the President said he is aware of government leaders including Ministers, army generals and senior police officers who injected money into the ‘dubious chia seed scheme’ some of who are now pushing for the government to pay in order to cover their losses, in the pretext of helping people.

The president told the Prime Minister, Edouard Ngirente that there shouldn’t be any government money being released to cover those losses.