Rwanda targets zero hunger in the next six years

Mothers feed their toddlers in a move to prevent malnutrition in Nyabihu District. / Régis Umurengezi

Rwanda has seen a significant improvement in its food security status with statistics from the 2018 comprehensive food security and vulnerability analysis showing that 81.3 per cent of the population is food secure.

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

During the countrywide celebrations for the World Food Day 2019 observed on Wednesday, Jean Claude Musabyimana, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, said that in the next six years the country has committed to getting food for the few remaining households which are food insecure.

Globally, World Food Day is usually celebrated on October 16 every year, but each country is free to opt for a convenient date between October 16 and 31.

On national level the Day will be celebrated on October 31 in Nyabirasi Sector in Rutsiro District, Western Province.

It’s being celebrated under the theme; “Our actions are our future. Healthy diets for a Zero Hunger World”, which calls for action across sectors to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and available for everyone.

Musabyimana the government is now supporting farmers to embrace good farming practices in order to increase agricultural production and farm productivity.

“We provided extension services to farmers, encourage them (to adopt) proper and timely land preparation, distribute seeds and fertilisers to farmers across the country, as well as pesticides needed for them to increase yields,” he said.

The global hunger status

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations’ (FAO) 2019 State of Food Security and Nutrition, over 820 million people are suffering from hunger, corresponding to about one in every nine people in the world.

It states that hunger is on the rise in almost all African sub-regions, with more than 30 per cent of the undernourished in the world living in Africa.

Target to end eradicate

Under the Malabo Declaration under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), African Heads of State committed to ending hunger on the continent by 2025.

“Rwanda is in that same vision whereby we have committed to make hunger a history in our country as it is the target for the entire world. And, our strategies are converging towards such a goal,” Musabyimana said.

The Eastern Province of Rwanda, particularly Kayonza District, is the most prone to food insecurity especially due to the drought that devastates crops and agriculture production.

Going forward, Musabyimana said, Rwanda has embarked on irrigation tackle drought-induced food shortages.

The Government subsidise irrigation equipment by up to 50 per cent of the cost.

“Rwandans, in general, rely on rain-fed agriculture. The major thing is to change such a mentality, but also there is a need to increase budget allocation to such [irrigation] activity,” he said.

Currently, over 51,000 hectares of farmland is irrigated in Rwanda.

The country targets to irrigate 102,000 hectares of farmland by 2024, according to the ministry of agriculture.

Despite the hunger situation, FAO states that about a third of food produced every year in the world is lost.

Musabyimana said that the government is supporting farmers to get the technologies required in order to improve post-harvest handling, and conduct trainings for farmers and cooperatives across the country on how to effectively manage their produce.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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