Agrarian and Land Reforms in Rwanda: Situation and Perspectives

DOI 10.7160/aol.2018.100307
No 3/2018, September
pp. 79-92

Mizero, M., Karangwa, A., Burny, P., Michel, B. and Lebailly, P. (2018) “Agrarian and Land Reforms in Rwanda: Situation and Perspectives", AGRIS on-line Papers in Economics and Informatics, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 71-92. ISSN 1804-1930. DOI 10.7160/aol.2018.100307.


Rwanda is a landlocked country of Eastern Africa with 26,338 km2. The total arable land in Rwanda is more or less than 1.8 million ha and Rwanda has the highest population density in Africa. A series of policy reforms and agrarian strategic plan have been elaborated to transform the economy now oriented towards subsistence agriculture into a knowledge-based service and market-oriented economy. The research question is who has the right to land ownership for its rational use? The purpose of this article is to contribute to land sharing prospects between agricultural operators and investors in Rwanda for the optimisation of land access in the rural areas. This work is the result of deep literature review related to the situation of land issue prevailing from pre-colonial period to the recent 2004 land policy reforms in Rwanda. Crucial challenges before the beginning of the effective agrarian evolution are widely discussed. Agrarian perspectives show that the foreignization of agrarian reforms put Rwandan peasants in uncomfortable position. The changes in land use and tenure in Rwanda have been stimulated by both outside influence and inside adversary forces. The real land reform policy consists in specialization and exploitation of large-scale farms subsequent to land consolidation of small plots registered by individuals whose property certificates are preserved. Meanwhile, the required registration of land holdings does not entitle the land to definitive appropriation but it only provides the rights of use if rational exploitation is guaranteed. Such a rational system may result in expropriation for the inefficient producers.This article emphasize that in the case of Rwanda were population growth rate is high, the redistribution of land has its limits. The land consolidation should not be a rule either. Any agrarian reform must find a point of balance. This equilibrium consists in reducing the pressure on the property assets and promoting rural entrepreneurship. Agriculture program may improve and diversify the mode of land access and improved input acquisition to feed a growing population whereas non-agriculture population is gradually increasing. It has been found that farmers operating in co-operatives are more secure and have advantage for land access than individual farmers.


Land access, agrarian perspectives, land reforms, foreignization, Rwanda.


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