Women farmers will soon benefit from a project that seeks to promote sustainable agriculture by involving them in policy making and budgeting.
The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and the Arab Bank for Economic Development will inject $250 million to implement the five-year project in three African countries—Malawi, Liberia and Rwanda.
In Rwanda, both institutions will partner with ActionAid though the Policy Advocacy Forum, a platform which brings together women farmers, cooperatives, civil society and the government among others.
Beruk Negash from ACBF said their 2013 research found that agriculture has huge potential in Africa and that the labour in the sector comes from women.
“More than 60 per cent of agriculture labour force in Africa are women. If we need to have a growth in agriculture, we need to empower them. This policy forum discusses ways to empower them at policy and implementation level,” he said.
Limited access to finance and land in some African countries, as well as skills deficiency, are some of the issues challenging women, he added.
“The main problem in Africa is not making good policies but implementing them at the ground level. The gap which is still there is capacity, an issue we are trying to sort out together with the concerned institutions,” he said.
Josephine Uwamariya, the Country Coordinator for Action Aid, said the project will empower women in agriculture in order to increase their productivity.
“Women constitute 52 per cent of Rwanda’s population. Moreover, more than 80 per cent of them never participate in budgeting and planning,” she said.
“We are going to train them, having many meetings together in order to show them their contribution in agriculture planning and budgeting, as well as giving them a platform to share knowledge.”
Eric Hakizimana, the Budget Management and Reporting Office at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, said it is important to include everyone in the budgeting process, including farmers.
“When we are preparing the budget, local leaders from grassroots consult people on what they see as priorities, which have to be included in the national budget in every sector. These ideas are compiled at district level, every ministry in charge, for example Minagri in agriculture sector, takes theirs. We prepare budgets basing on these ideas from the whole country,” he said.
Ancille Nirere, a farmer from Shingiro Sector in Musanze District, said farmers, especially women, don’t have basic knowledge to practice modern agriculture.
“We wish farmers could be given enough knowledge about how to invest in agriculture, basic technical knowledge on how to boost productivity and take part in planning,” she said.