Lack of farmers’ participation in policy formulation hurting agric output – survey

Rice farmers in Rubona in Southern Province harvest their produce. File.

Rwanda’s agriculture output is still low, in part because policy-makers do not involve farmers in the process of formulating policies.

This is according to a recent survey by Transparency International (TIR) that was carried out in two districts of Kayonza and Nyanza in Eastern and Southern provinces respectively.

The finding, which were released Wednesday, show that farmers do not fully benefit from their sweat, stressing the need to increase their involvement in agricultural related policies and projects.

Completed June this year, the survey also revealed that performance contracts are hard to implement because individual farmers and farmers’ cooperatives are not involved in the formulation process.

According to the findings, in planning of Imihigo phase, the survey revealed that 84.2 per cent of respondents are not invited to attend any meeting to work with the districts in Imihigo preparation while 76.6 per cent said they don’t join the district in the formulation of Imihigo.

The survey findings also show that 78.1 per cent do not express priorities in the sector.

However, despite not being involved in the entire planning process of Imihigo, 68 per cent of the respondents said that they are engaged in the implementation of performance contracts.

Very few farmers participate in the evaluation of performance contracts that are implemented, the survey says.

Appolinaire Mupiganyi, the Executive Secretary of Transparency Rwanda, said that despite the good government policies and programmes, the authorities fall short of implementation.

“We have to deliver citizen centred services. Citizens’ priorities are ignored; we have to reflect on how we can join efforts together with media, government and civil society to ensure that the voice of farmers is heard,” he said.

Dr Félicien Usengumukiza, the Head of Research and Monitoring at the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), said that while citizen participation is not high in drafting performance contracts, especially in agriculture, a lot has been done in engaging citizens in the process, not only in agriculture, but in other processes as well.

“We are yet to be where we want (to be) but a lot has been done in the engaging stakeholders, especially citizens in the process of drafting performance contracts; however, we still need to put in more efforts so that citizens can be more involved in the process for them to feel included and help in the implementation as they are key stakeholders,” he said.

According to Théophile Nkeshimana Rugaju, the Head of Planning at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB): “It looks like farmers are forced to implement programmes because if participation is at 15 per cent but the implementation is up to 68 per cent, we need to put in more efforts to engage farmers in the entire process”.

The findings are a result of the ongoing five-year project of Transparency International Rwanda, which is called “Empowering farmers at District Level through Social Accountability Tools to Improve Performance contracts in Rwandan Agriculture”

It aims to examine farmers’ awareness on existing public agriculture projects, assess the level of satisfaction, participation of farmers with planning implementation and monitoring of agricultural projects planned in Imihigo in the two districts.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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