Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA) this Wednesday met main stakeholders in agriculture development to discuss and validate a proposed client charter for the leasing of agricultural land to investors.
Dr Emmanuel Nkurunziza, director general of RNRA, said that the objective of the workshop was to look at the current process of leasing land in the country and see whether it is suitable to attract investors. It was also meant to address investment challenges in country’s agribusiness sector through the client charter.
Nkurunziza said the introduction of the client charter is overdue given that some of the laws that were being referred date back a long time and are therefore no longer very relevant.
According to Tony Nsanganira, head of the agriculture development department at RDB, the charter – clearly describing steps, time and cost of each district land leasing – is a pledge to agribusiness investors to streamline the process of acquiring land, making it faster, transparent and predictable. “Our main mission is to attract many investors in various sectors,” he said. “So we have to make sure that agricultural land is effectively exploited as agriculture remains the backbone of the economy.”
In 2011, about US$ 78 million was invested in the agriculture sector.
Nsanganira also pointed out that Rwanda will not only benefit from big investors in agribusiness through the expertise they bring in, but also job creation.
The client charter will initially focus on state-owned land, although private land owners should follow the same guidelines to make sure that land gives maximum profits to the country, Nsanganira remarked.
Although off late the land tenure system has been significantly reformed, he noted, some challenges remained when it comes to leasing agricultural land; thus the charter was elaborated by drawing from the existing laws and regulations, and recent practical experiences of leasing land to agribusiness investors.
The requirements for agribusiness projects include consultations with all affected people in the areas of investments, development plans, project milestones, environmental and social management plans as a basis for continued access to land and reduced delays in land lease processes among others.