I mentioned One Egg to a Rwandan I was speaking with one day. One Egg is a 501c3 organization that aims to provide children in Rwanda with eggs for their development. The individual I spoke with said:
The “One Egg” program is a serious mockery and…I don’t even know [what] to call it…why stop people from growing their own plants…from farming …take away their lands and then pretend to feed them?
What was he talking about? Probably things like the Rwandan State’s heavy handed agriculture policies:
The government’s prime concern seems to be to demonstrate to donors that sustained economic growth based on agriculture and services is possible in a country devoid of strategic resources. Each order of government is being pressured by the one above to achieve specific results in terms of agricultural production. Leaders of cooperatives are, in turn, being told to meet specific targets and, basically, to get with the new program – or they may be out of a job. Indeed, recalcitrant cooperative administrators have been replaced in several cases by more pliable individuals.
At the lowest level, independent small farmers have been forced into cooperatives as a means of ensuring that their farming activities comply with the program. In Cyuve, Musanze district, local officials ordered all crops other than maize to be pulled up after the region was assigned to grow maize at the start of 2009.
A leader of the I.A.B.M. cooperative in Gitarama told how thousands of co-op members were forced to switch to growing maize and soybean seed: “The authorities wanted us to become commercial seed growers, but the women of the cooperatives wanted to keep growing sweet potatoes, cabbage, and other vegetables in the marshes. They wouldn’t back down and the authorities wound up sending in the army to pull up our crops.”
Strategic crops are identified for each administrative district: maize, rice, and manioc in the Southeast; potatoes, wheat, and maize in the north; flowers in Kigali province, and so forth. CIP participants, volunteer or conscripted, must comply with the Ministry of Agriculture’s program. They are told which crops to plant, forbidden from intercropping, and forced to practice monoculture in sync with their neighbours.1
Or perhaps he was thinking of things like this:
Under the pretense of pursuing infiltrated rebels, the RPF ordered, as of 1998, that all banana plantations be cut down, mostly in the northern and central regions of Rwanda. A disasrous measure for rwandan peasants, who use the banana plant in multiple ways. They eat its fruit, which is also used to produce juice or wine. Banana leaves are used to cover rooftops as well as to feed cattle. Banana trees can reproduce at any time of the year and are resistant to sudden climate changes. In Rwanda, the banana tree has historically been a life-saving crop during famines.
RPF ideologists keep coming up with new ways to further advance this criminal policy. From 1997 to the year 2000, they introduced a policy of relocating the population into villages. With help of the “Local Defense Militia”, the regime forced peasants to destroy their own homes, often brick houses with corrugated iron or tile rooftops, before sending them to go sleep outside in unhealthy, until then not inhabitated places. It took a firm intervention from donor countries to make Rwanda put an end to that policy.
Then in 2004, the Land Reform Decree was issued. That law wreaked havoc. It allowed haphazard land distribution, made it illegal to live near a lake or a big river, made it possible for the state to expropriate people with no compensation-or such a small one that the relocated people would not be able to pay for new lodgings. In the Eastern Province, peasants were simply chased away or killed and big dignitaries of the regime took over their land. Over twenty senior members of the RPF party, military brass, businessmen and such, owned an average of over 600 ha each, while the average Rwandan peasant owns 0,6 ha of land. Again it took a foreign donors’ outcry to make President Kagame go in the countryside in july 2007 to redistribute land.
Taking advantage of the interest the world shows today for environmental issues, the RPF made it illegal in Rwanda to fell a tree on one’s property, to bake bricks or tiles on one’s own farm,…as a consequence of this, peasants are left with the option of spending the little money they have on firewood and moving into straw huts.
In other words, the Rwandan government creates the same crises that these charities purport to be fighting.