KIGALI - The new government plan to overhaul the agricultural sector and increase food and the nutritional security of the country yesterday received a major boost from development partners who pledged to meet the $350m shortfall.
The Agriculture Sector Strategy and Investment Plan to be implemented by the government between 2009 and 2012 will cost over $800m but the Ministry of Agriculture was experiencing a gap of $350m that needed to be raised by April 2010 in order to include it in the 2010/11 budget.
The plan which aims to transform agriculture into a modern, professionally-managed and market-oriented economic undertaking yesterday received the backing of the donor platform including the World Bank, the United States Government, Canada, IFAD, AfDB and the European Commission among others.
Following a presentation of the plan to development partners during the just concluded Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) meeting, the plan received overwhelming backing and partners pledged to meet their commitments before April 15th, some coming up with figures while others couldn’t specify.
On behalf of Development partners, Anna Maria from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) noted that partners will come up with a contribution to the investment plan after reviewing it.
“Development partners will, having reviewed the investment plan in detail, make all efforts to mobilise funding from both traditional and non-traditional sources.”
“In order to align with the Rwandan Government planning and budget cycle, some commitments will be met from now to April 2010 so that it can be included in the budget for July 2010,” announced Anna Maria, , in a joint statement from development partners.
She is also head the Agriculture sector working group in Rwanda
On behalf of the government, Finance and Planning Minister John Rwangombwa lauded development partners, urging them to meet their commitments ahead of the national budget.
“We are happy as a government, with the joint statement from partners. The key issue here is the timing that has been indicated and the commitment to try and finance the entire gap and in terms of predictability that goes with the timing, we are really happy,” Rwangombwa said.
The International Fund for African Development (IFAD) announced that it will contribute US$38.6m to the investment plan in the financial year 2010/11, while next week its Board of Directors will approve a US$9.3m fund to support agriculture development in Rwanda on top of the earlier signed $24m agriculture support fund allocated to the country.
It also announced that it will open its permanent office in the country next year.
The Special Representative of the US President, Gayle Dyer, said that the US is deeply committed to support agricultural and economic development and has requested Rwanda to forward its 2010/11 budget to which it will contribute $25m dollars.
The European Commission also announced it’s commitment to continue supporting the country’s budget with its annual $250m contribution.
In addition to that, it will also contribute about $54m to support agriculture development on top of $100m to stimulate economic growth, to which 20 percent will go to agriculture development.
The World Bank and the Department for International Development (DFID) as well as the African Development Bank also made their pledges to the plan.
According to Agriculture Minister Agnes Kalibata, the plan will help improve the lives of more than 50 percent Rwandans who continues to live on less than one US Dollar a day yet the agricultural sector remains the economic backbone employing about 80 percent of the working population.