Parliament roots for institutional cooperation for value addition in agriculture

A number of issues found in the area of adding value to agricultural produce could be resolved if better efforts were made to coordinate activities among concerned institutions. File.

Members of the Chamber of Deputies on Monday requested the Prime Minister to move swiftly and set up a mechanism that would help the Ministry of Agriculture and other institutions to work more closely to uplift the agriculture sector.

They made the recommendation after a parliamentary special committee set up by the House in April to investigate prevailing issues in the agriculture sector submitted its report.

The committee, which was led by the chairperson of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Jean Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, noted that a number of issues found in the area of adding value to agricultural produce could be resolved if better efforts were made to coordinate activities among concerned institutions.

For example, the MPs have argued that results could be improved if district officials across the country were more involved in projects initiated to support farmers.

They also argued that plans to add value to agricultural produce could be more productive if the ministry of agriculture were working more closely with the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM), the ministry of finance, farmers’ cooperatives, and local leaders at the district level.

As he submitted the committee’s report, MP Ngabitsinze said that there are institutional weaknesses when it comes to coordinated planning, monitoring, and coordination of activities.

“People need to rethink how to work better and collectively in order to assess the projects intended to help farmers and ensure that they are useful,” he said.

Issues found on the ground by the special committee include struggling projects that were initiated to help farmers add value on what they produce, such as community-based processing centres (CPCs) for banana, milk, potatoes, and honey related products but ended up not working or operating below capacity.

There are also issues with milk collection centres (MCCs) that aren’t in full use by dairy farmers, valley-dams that are already dry, and poorly managed farmers’ cooperatives among other challenges.

Among other institutions, the MPs asked the Prime Minister’s office, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Local Government, and the Ministry of Finance to move swiftly and solve issues found in the agriculture sector.

MP Théogène Munyangeyo said that a sense of accountability for the projects initiated in the sector is needed for leaders while farmers engaged in the agriculture sector are also expected to own the process to modernise it.

“People need to take responsibilities; they need to have ownership and be accountable in what they are doing,” Munyangeyo said.

MP Annoncée Manirarora commended the current contribution of the agriculture sector for the country’s exports, valuing it at 40 per cent, and called for more efforts to modernise it.

“We should be proud of where we are in agriculture but also increase efforts to further modernise it,” she said.

Several MPs, including Emmanuel Bugingo and Christine Muhongayire, also commended recent improvements in services rendered to farmers, such as the use of mobile phone technology in order to register farmers who use seeds and fertiliser subsidies offered by the government as well as insurance packages for crops and livestock.

But they also called for further efforts to successfully implement the initiatives made to develop the agriculture sector.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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