KIGALI - The government and its development partners have agreed on empowering the agricultural sector to achieve sustainable growth. The decision was reached after this week’s two-day annual conference which ended yesterday at Serena Hotel in Kigali. The conference also saw the launch of the implementation of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS), which was introduced as a medium - term framework for achieving long term aspirations such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Vision 2020.
According to the EDPRS programme, the government plans to increase investments in agriculture by at least 27 percent next year through integrated projects and programmes for sustainable development, decentralised implementation of agricultural policies and prioritising technology transfer.
During the meeting all stakeholders reaffirmed their commitment to making transition from subsistence farming to professional with an aim of exporting their products.
“Our country’s development prospects in general cannot be separated from the fate of our agriculture, because most of our people toil in this sector that remains subsistent and to a large extent a poverty trap,” President Paul Kagame said during his keynote address to the meeting.
He challenged the meeting to discuss food security agro-industries and export markets as a way of developing the sector.
The UN Resident Coordinator Moustapha Soumaré remarked that agriculture is the backbone of production in the country since over 80 percent of the population depends on agriculture.
Soumaré whose mandate in Rwanda expires this year emphasised his belief on behalf of development partners that agricultural reform can play a catalytic role in spurring economic growth and poverty reduction in the country.
Agriculture minister Anastase Murekezi assured delegates that ‘comprehensive policies’ were being implemented to deal with increasing yields and climate issues. “The plan includes increased budgetary allocation in the sector entails terracing, water harvesting, increased fertilizer use, and crop intensification program,” Murekezi said.
According to the 2007 Macro-economic performance of the country presented to the development partners on Monday, Agriculture slumped by 1.8 percent over the past year due to decline in food crop production and fall in export crops.
However despite that, indicators show that the overall economic growth steadily remained at 6.3 percent with revenues increasing and government projecting to finance over half of next year’s budget.