Devt partners in joint effort to end agric-trade misalignment

Development partners from the agriculture and trade sectors are seeking to improve a number of joint policymaking initiatives to promote agricultural productivity, develop domestic value chain, generate agriculture-related employment and improve domestic food security.

This involves the Ministry of Agriculture, and that of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) under the framework of promoting agricultural trade by addressing the misalignment between the two sectors.

A study by Food and Agriculture Organisationshows that there is a misalignment between trade and agriculture sectors while a sectoral coordination can improve coherence across both sectors.

It is recommended that addressing the misalignment be done in line with the Strategic Transformation of Agriculture, the central medium term planning document for agriculture in Rwanda.

Speaking at a workshop in Kigali yesterday, Cassien Karangwa, the commodity value chain trade officer at MINICOM, said collaboration is needed to help farmers improve value chain during the post-harvest transportation to the market.

“Collaboration is needed to ensure market for farmers as well as give the business community quality products,” he said.

According to FAO’s study on ‘Coordination between Agriculture and Trade Policymaking in Rwanda,’ trade in agricultural goods accounts for a significant share of Rwanda’s total trade where agriculture-related imports, including food crops for consumption and processing, and inputs such as seeds, fertiliser and pesticides were $386 million in 2016.

Agriculture’s share of total exports was 35 per cent in the same year.

The study highlights the national structures and governance and coordination mechanisms relating to agriculture and trade policymaking processes to better understand where and how decisions are made to establish sectoral objectives and priorities and how the mechanisms can be used to align these processes in the future.

Wadzanai Katsande, an economist at FAO, said should the two work well together, more jobs could be created in the two sectors, with the youth as the main beneficiaries.

“As a technical partner to Rwanda’s agriculture-based development, we are looking at harvest production increase, income generation and how to get more jobs created for the community,” she said.

To improve agriculture and trade policy coordination, the study recommends that Government acts as a private sector enabler as opposed to a private sector actor, and coordination should focus on promoting agriculture sector export growth.

This will define where trade can facilitate agriculture sector in ensuring agricultural incentives, tariffs and priorities are aligned and consistent across the value chains, officials said.