AT LEAST 60 civil society organisations (CSOs) yesterday inaugurated a joint forum to harmonise their voice in advocating for development of the agriculture sector in the country.
The forum, dubbed “Rwanda Civil Society Agriculture Forum,” is expected to act as a platform through which civil society organisations whose intervention is in agriculture sector will discuss the challenges facing the sector and ways to address them.
“We found it necessary to establish a forum where civil society organisations, farmers’ organisations and other agriculture activists can meet and share experiences and challenges facing the sector and advocate for those challenges to ensure sustainable agriculture development,” said Edward Karangwa, the chairperson of the Rwanda Civil Society Agriculture Forum (RCAF) at the launching ceremony in Kigali yesterday.
According to the 2003 Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa, African countries committed to adopt sound policies for agriculture and rural development and allocate at least 10 per cent of national budgetary resources for their implementation within five years in line with the framework of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP).
African governments also committed to engage in consultations at national and regional levels with CSOs and other key stakeholders to promote their active participation in all aspects of agriculture and food production.
James Butare, the deputy country director of Action Aid International, said there is a need for joint planning for civil society organisations to ensure their interventions lead to sustainable agricultural growth.
“All actors in agriculture should have a clear and common understanding and joint planning and implementation of the programmes in the sector through harnessing opportunities for inclusive growth and sustainable development,” he said.
Among the priorities of RCAF include advocacy to ensure effective participation of non-state actors in the formulation of agriculture policies and the agriculture budget making processes, coordination of efforts in the sector, and advocating for changes in some of the current agriculture policies in the country.
RCAF also seeks to sensitise and educate farmers on policies and budgeting and promot debates on issues affecting smallholder farmers, especially youth and women.