The Director of Millennium Development villages East and Southern Africa, Dr Belay Begashaw, has urged African countries to foster agribusiness for sustainable economic development.
Begashaw made the remarks during a workshop that brought together agronomists and experts from Millennium Development Goal (MDG) centres in East and Southern Africa in Nyamata Sector, Bugesera District on Monday.
The MDG centre based in Nairobi, Kenya, supports Millennium Villages Project (MVP) in six countries– Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. Mayange Sector in Rwanda is one of the beneficiaries of MVP.
Begashaw said that there is still hope for people in the poorest regions of rural Africa to lift themselves out of poverty in time to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
“We have to utilise the available resources and help farmers embrace commercial agriculture,” he said.
Begashaw said agriculture in Africa was still dependent on natural factors, adding that there is need to transform the sector.
He said that the main challenge was to make agriculture predictable through increased investment in the sector.
“We should start looking at agriculture as a business and that is why this workshop seeks to promote cooperatives,” Begashaw said.
He further noted that the concept of cooperatives was doing well in Mayange Sector, adding, however, that there was need for crop diversification.
Louis Rwagaju, the Bugesera District mayor, said Mayange Sector benefitted greatly from MVP.
“Mayange was among the poorest sectors in the country but this has since changed thanks to MVP,” he said.
Begashaw said the introduction of cooperatives helped to transform people’s livelihoods as farmers were connected to global markets with competitive quality and quantity produce.