Rwanda urged to target regional food markets

Rwanda should exploit regional markets, especially the East African region, in order to increase agriculture’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a World Bank official has said.

Rwanda should exploit regional markets, especially the East African region, in order to increase agriculture’s contribution to the  Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a World Bank official has said.

Tom Bundervoet, an economist with the World Bank, was speaking during a forum that sought to explore ways the agriculture sector can further contribute toward economic development and poverty reduction in Kigali last week.

“By exporting to regional markets, Rwanda stands a chance to further increase the contribution of agriculture to national development,” Bundervoet said.

Bundervoet said that several research findings had proven that agriculture was key to alleviating poverty in the country.

“Agriculture is responsible for about 45 per cent of poverty reduction in the last half of the decade. This is partly due to the agricultural boom in the second half of the decade and the increased commercialisation of agriculture,” Bundervoet said.

The World Bank economist noted that in order to consolidate the gains achieved, Rwanda ought to do business with its neighbours as there was ready market in the region.

Xinshen Diao, from the International Food Policy Research Institute, said there was need for value addition to help increase  agriculture exports. 

She said that such exports would help spur the growth and development of agricultural-related sectors, leading to national development.

“To further broaden the trade basket, it is important to target niche markets,” Diao said.

Gustavo Merino, the director of the investment centre division at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), told The New Times that there was need to invest in agriculture modernisation if the sector was to have a significant impact on the economy.

Merino commended the regional integration efforts, which he said have helped agriculture  stakeholders in Rwanda interact and share ideas with their counterparts in the region.

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