Govt launches new plan to stave off malnutrition

Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente chats with Shenggen Fan, Director-General of International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), during the launch of the program, December 06, 2019 in Kigali. Courtesy

Rwanda has launched a new programme to enhance evidence-based policy and capacity development seeking to end hunger and malnutrition by 2025.

Launched on Friday, the Agricultural Policy Analysis and Capacity Development Programme, follows the global food policy by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in May this year called for increased funding for agriculture in order to address the crisis of food insecurity and poverty in rural areas in the world.

While officiating at the launch of the programme, Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said that it will support effective implementation of the fourth Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture (PSTA4) which aims at transforming Rwanda’s agriculture from a subsistence sector to a knowledge-based value-creating sector, contribute to the national economy and ensure food and nutrition security.

Developed by IFPRI in collaboration with Rwanda, the programme seeks to leverage on evidence and policy analysis to accelerate agricultural transformation in Rwanda.

The Premier said that under the Compact2025, an initiative for ending hunger and under-nutrition by 2025, Rwanda worked with IFPRI and other stakeholders to set priorities and identify action gaps.

Compact2025 was launched by IFPRI in November 2015.

“One of the actions identified was to set up a programme that can provide the country with evidence-based policy research and capacity development in the agriculture sector. It is thanks to this productive collaboration that we are launching this programme today,” Ngirente said.

Shenggen Fan, the Director-General of IFPRI, said that Rwanda made progress in reducing hunger and malnutrition, but some challenges have persisted.

The 2018 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis shows that 81.3 per cent of the population is food secure.

However, the same study showed that 18.7 per cent of the country’s households, approximately 467,000 households, were found to be food insecure.

Rwanda’s food security state is not far from that of Africa as 260 million people or about 20 per cent of the continent’s population are undernourished, according to the 2019 State of Food Security and Nutrition by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The Prime Minister said successful implementation of the new programme will be very instrumental for the country in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 2, which seeks to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030.

“This programme will also complement our efforts in accelerating progress in ending hunger and malnutrition. Our aim is to ensure that all Rwandans achieve their full potential as healthy and productive members of our society,” he observed.

Gerardine Mukeshimana, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources said the programme will help make evidence-based interventions to increase farm productivity and also bolster marketing of agricultural produce.

“With the current system, an area might be facing food shortage and high prices, while another has a surplus and farmers struggle to get enough income,” the Minister said giving an example of mangoes which would be sold at a giveaway price in Rusizi District, while the fruit costs high in Kigali. “The outcomes of the programme will help Rwanda and the agriculture sector to advance policy dialogue and provide advisory services for all stakeholders as well as pursue complementarities and synergies for maximised benefits.”

Shenggen Fan, Director-General of IFPRI said that there was a need to increase investment in agriculture, but also making the right choice on where such investment should go in order to optimise yields.

“We have to transform our food system today to make sure that it helps us to deliver healthy and nutritious food, generate good jobs,” Fan said, underscoring the need to make agriculture become resilient to climate change in order to protect farmers against losses resulting from it.

“Sometimes there is too much rain, sometimes there are many droughts. But how to make sure that our practices can adapt to all [climate] changes is a very important part of our [agriculture] transformation,” he indicated.

entirenganya@newtimesrwanda.com

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