Wetland farmers are appealing for a reduction in taxes and a review on taxable farming land, after an increase resulted in them posting losses on the crops they grow.
Thousands of marshland farmers were taken by surprise by the sharp increase in taxes of almost ten-fold, which was enforced without prior consultation.
Mediatrice Mukarukwaya, a farmer in Busogwe swamp located in Mukingo sector in Nyanza district, said that despite Rwf54,000 worth of harvest in her rice farm in the last season, she has nothing to take home.
“Out of Rwf54,780 I harvested in the past farming season, I only got Rwf7,500 after paying taxes, which I used to pay for the agro-inputs I got from in Tubura,” said Ms Mukarukwaya.
According to farmers in Nyanza district, during the beginning of season B 2019, which started in March, district officials have requested them to top up Rwf85,000 on the Rwf15,000 they have been paying as tax on each hectare of land as yearly taxes.
The increased taxes on marshland farming has started seeing small-scale farmers in Nyanza district opt out of wetland farming, as it has become a loss-making venture.
“Given the high cost of production, agro-inputs, and taxes, we are now only making losses,” said Emmanuel Mugisha, a member of Icyerekezo co-operative in Busasamana sector, which does maize and rice farming in Rushashi swamp.
Increased taxes on wetland farming, which have been characterised by high discrepancies, for instance in Kirehe District and Huye District, the tax on marshland is Rwf60,000 and Rwf30,000 respectively, which results in unfair competition between different regions.
Despite the central government handling the collection and increase in revenues, the district council regulates taxation on non-movable properties, under which swamps fall.
Gustave Nzugize, the director of agriculture and natural resources in Nyanza district said that many co-operatives across the district have raised their concerns with the districts and the Rwanda Revenue Authority could wait for the district council’s directive overturning the tax rates.