Rwanda LAND Policy Research Brief: Implementation and Outcomes of Restrictions on Agricultural Land Subdivision

In Rwanda, it is widely believed that land fragmentation poses a challenge to agricultural productivity; however, land fragmentation also serves as a climate change adaptation and risk management strategy for farmers. Research has also found that the inverse farm size relationship holds true in Rwanda, meaning that smaller farms may be more productive than larger ones. Despite the potential benefits of land fragmentation, the Government of Rwanda has identified land fragmentation through extensive subdivision as a barrier to the realization of its development vision. As such, the Government of Rwanda has adopted and implemented policies restricting fragmentation, including land subdivision. This policy brief focuses on Article 30 of the 2013 Land Law, which provides that: “It is prohibited to subdivide plots of land reserved for agriculture and animal resources if the result of such subdivision leads to parcels of land of less than a hectare in size for each of them. Owners of lands prohibited to be subdivided shall co-own and use the land in accordance with the laws.”

Through literature review, legal analysis, and primary research, this policy brief attempts to elucidate how Article 30 is implemented and the outcomes of the provision on land use practices and tenure security in Rwanda. In summary, the research finds that implementation of Article 30 has not prevented land subdivisions, but rather encouraged informal subdivisions and transfers. While well-meaning, the provision is incongruent with the needs and realities of most rural Rwandan citizens and negatively impacts land tenure security