There are 500,000 tree seedlings that are rotting in nurseries dotted in various districts, with the people involved saying they may lose up to Rwf 1.4billion ($1.5m).
Since mid 2019, an company called Community Cooperation for Integrated Development (CCID) started a project to distribute fruit trees including mangos, passion and ovacados. The group engaged 14 other groups, some individuals, to replicate the nurseries in those districts.
Each sub-contracted team was to develop nurseries of 500,000 seedlings in each district. The plan was that these seedlings would be bought by the ministry of agriculture for free distribution to Rwandans so they plant them in homes.
Nearly a year later, all the 7m tree seedlings are laying idle in the different districts. The subcontracted cooperatives and individuals, some of whom obtained bank loans to engage in the project, are settling to the fact that they have lost their money.
The details about this project were first published by local publications Kigali Today and UKWEZI.
In August, the issue about the tree project was raised at a youth forum presided over by President Paul Kagame. He was informed by one of the people behind the project that the fruit trees could help improve diets in homes. President Kagame urged the agriculture ministry to look into the issue.
In October, the project implementors were informed that government position was that it had no role in the project, and so it had no plans of buying all the 7m seedlings.
The government’s position was communicated to CCID by agriculture minister Dr Géraldine Mukeshimana at a meeting they reportedly had. They were told they need to find other people or companies to buy the seedlings for distribution as government would not.
The 14 districts where these nurseries are located include Rulindo, Ngororero, Rutsiro and Rubavu – with others which were selected to reflect all provinces.
The cooperatives or individuals who were subcontracted in the districts, invested tens of millions, some borrowed from banks, with the hope that once the seedlings developed, government would automatically but them. Now, the cooperatives are stuck with the nurseries and the debts incurred.