Rwanda could benefit from $80m boost to regional agriculture sector

Ten countries in East and Central Africa will receive $80 million (Frw44 billion) from various donors to improve agricultural production over the next five years, a regional research association said.
Cassava infection expected to decline under the funding (File photo)
Cassava infection expected to decline under the funding (File photo)

Ten countries in East and Central Africa will receive $80 million (Frw44 billion) from various donors to improve agricultural production over the next five years, a regional research association said.

Vice Chairman of Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), Ephraim Mukisira, said that food security was an issue in the region and that their target was to improve drought resistant crops, combat diseases and the impact of climate change.

There is need to improve agriculture to enhance food security in the region since food crisis is looming in most parts of Africa and the world.

Quoted by Reuters, an online news agency earlier this week, Mukisira said that food security is an issue here in the region and all efforts are being done to curb it.

Adding: “We want technologies that can tap into our resources including the arid and semi-arid areas.”

The group is made up of scientists, farmers` organisations and other agricultural workers from the member states that include Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Sudan.

By press time, a comment from Institute of Science and Agricultural Research (ISAR) a member of the regional research association had not been obtained.

However, Agnes Kalilbata, the State Minister for Agriculture said this was good news for Rwanda that is making significant developments in the sector.

“If we happen to be part of the beneficiaries, our efforts towards agricultural development will gain a boost and we welcome this with open hand,” she explained.

Rwanda’s agricultural sector is tremendously growing contributing about 40 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs the biggest part of the population.

The sector also contributes significantly to national food security, as more than 90 percent of the food consumed in the country is domestically produced.

Despite tremendous potential for agricultural production, the region is one of the poorest in the world and is often the subject of international food aid appeals.

The region is reported to have rich soils for agricultural production but has failed to move out of poverty and is one of the poorest in the world.

Many of the countries in the east and central Africa depend on agriculture for their economic development; however problems among them climate change has failed to bring results.

The appeal came two days after the UN refugee agency said an average of 100 people from neighbouring Burundi flee to western Tanzania everyday to escape a punishing drought that has left 2.2 million people in need of food aid in the small central African country.

The United Nations is appealing for $460 million to feed some 10 million Ethiopians affected by drought and high food prices.

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