Rwanda Hailed for Focus on Agriculture

Published on 11th December 2009

President Kagame in a CAADP function
The hunger situation in Africa is worrying. The World Hunger Report for 2009 indicates that most countries in Sub-Saharan are food stressed. This is even more evident in countries where potentials for increasing food production are high, for example in this region: Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and others. Yet, the causes are known, ranging from inadequate access to sound varieties of seeds and stocking materials, limited use of fertilizers to enhance yields, pests and animal diseases, poor control of post-harvest losses and insufficient, affordable credit, limited addition of value to produce as well as poor infrastructure for market access. Most of these challenges are exacerbated by climate change manifested in erratic floods and drought situations in most African States, thereby increasing the food insecurity cases that require emergency responses as well as long-term strategies. With effective planning and predictability of these phenomena, we should be able to plan to mitigate and or adapt to these climate change variabilities as well as the daunting challenges.  


Excellent outcomes are being witnessed in some countries where there are commitments along the CAADP principles of effective leadership, good quality planning, effective implementation including accountability, setting clear targets and measuring results. In countries like Rwanda, Malawi and recently Sierra Leone, there is significant progress that is linked to this commitment. The leadership and people of these countries have  demonstrated that all the challenges mentioned above can be overcome with good science, policy and leadership.


President Kagame’s message  on September 26, 2009 in New York where he represented all African Heads of State at the High-level Meeting on Partnering for Agriculture and Food Security was clear that the attention to agriculture involves financial and human resources, commitment, together with improved partnerships with bilateral and multilateral institutions.


In Rwanda, we are happy to note the strong public and private sector leadership in engaging farmers, thereby making them part of the solution to the challenges faced by the agricultural sector. The review of Rwanda’s Sector Investment Plan indicated that Rwanda has increased public investment substantially, and that farmers have been responding positively through increased production and productivity. The review and other progress reports in Rwanda also indicate that this partnership is leading to improvements in areas such as improved seeds and fertilizers, land conservation, cooperatives, better post-harvest storage facilities, irrigation and establishing and maintaining commodity markets, just to mention a few of the key outcomes of your spirited efforts.


We have also been pleased to learn that the Rwanda Investment Plan demonstrates a comprehensive approach to respond to your challenges by investing in everything from research to better seeds, to insurance programs for small farmers to large-scale infrastructure projects that create sustainable and systemic change. 


What Rwanda has done is a big and positive test to the CAADP Process. It is worth encouraging and should be emulated by other AU Member States.We are now embarking on the process of bringing every partner from every sector together around a virtual one table across the world to discuss each country's plan, and then devise a way of executing it effectively, efficiently and without unnecessary delays.


We will also work and leverage the benefits of multilateral institution’s support to help in fulfilling the country plans, because these institutions have the reach and resources to do more than any single country could do. In any case, their raison d’etre is to support Member States’ development policies, programmes and projects. I am glad they are effectively represented on this occasion as part of the increased vigour in favour of CAADP implementation all over the African continent.


We will work with our partners here and beyond to pledge a long-term commitment of resources, based on accountability and results. To this effect, we have been encouraged during the various interactions and interfaces we have had with our partners who have indicated that they will stay committed in reversing the trend where international support for agriculture has been declining, while contributions to emergency aid have increased and yet are not sustainable. Of course, not only ODA to agriculture reduced, also African government investment in agriculture declined while at the same time the private sector that was expected to fill the gap remained reluctant for diverse reasons.


Through CAADP at the African Union level, working with Regional Economic Communities, we will continue to emphasise that the key element of country-led food and nutrition security strategy is the alignment of development assistance with the national policy priorities in all AU Member States. This is not only a challenge to Development Partners, but also to our Member States. In the first place, there must be a credible national strategy to align with. After all, the results of the recent survey for Monitoring the Paris Declaration and Accra Action Agenda on AID effectiveness show that both Member States and Development Partners have, by and large, not met the 2010 targets. Working on this has been our focus, through CAADP, in support to Member States to ensure that the strategies being developed are quality, credible and durable. 


Majority of Rwandan farmers are women. Securing food and nutrition security, therefore, contributes significantly to women's socioeconomic empowerment.Women are at the heart of our efforts, because most farmers of small holdings in the world are women.


The Rwanda Investment Plan has clear priorities for addressing hunger, malnutrition and poverty challenges as well as boost agricultural production and productivity for economic growth and food security. This is in line with the Theme of the 13th Session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government held in July in Sirte, Libya on Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security. The Plan is also clear on the current and required levels of financing – with financing gaps clearly identified. Rwanda meets almost all the requirements for ensuring that all support to Rwanda will be put into more effective use.


In complementing the laudable efforts of Member States like Rwanda, we expect our partners to immediately work out, if not in place already, modalities to scale-up support towards  financing these gaps. This will enhance and demonstrate commitments of mutual accountability and further encourage other Member States to intensify their pursuit of CAADP framework and process. 


We welcome the pledges made at the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy and in the process of accessing and utilisation of the pledges made. We welcome the establishment of a Global Financing Mechanism for Food Security at the World Bank. In this connection, we call for a more coordinated approach and use of CAADP systems and proper alignment to CAADP’s framework, structures, tools and streamlined procedures to ensure steady disbursement of funds to support the implementation of Country Compacts and investment plans like the one of Rwanda. We call for predictability of development resources while we pledge to work together in areas of measuring results, mutual accountability, strengthening and supporting country capacity to sustain these efforts.


We shall be inviting all our technical, financial and development partners to move and respond to actions put by other AU Member States in the implementation of their investment plans.


By Her Excellency Tumusiime Rhoda Peace

Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture

African Union Commission.

This article has been read 2,504 times