The 4th Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV4) findings released early last week indicated a new trend in terms of job creation within the agriculture sector. It showed that more people are leaving the farm to get or create jobs along the agriculture value addition chain.
A total of 148,376 new business enterprises were created between 2011 and 2014, and at least 92 percent of all new establishments created in the last three years, are dealing in agro-products.
According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda, establishments selling agro-products almost doubled from 25,613 in 2011 to 50,480 in 2014.
These findings give an insight into the role of agriculture in creation of jobs. It means that if the agriculture sector is fully transformed from subsistence to commercial agriculture, more off farm jobs will be created.
Farming should not be about the number of the people who till the land but rather the quality of agriculture performed by the few that will remain on the land as others look to tap into opportunities created by commercial agriculture along the value addition chain.
While we have more people leaving farms to deal in agro-based businesses, it is important to note that without modernizing agriculture, these agro businesses will not be sustainable. Therefore supporting agriculture is critical in increasing avenues for creation off farm jobs through agro-processing industries and export companies dealing in agro products.
The link between new businesses and agriculture is the kind of value-chain that needs to be given more support as it will boost creation of more jobs and pull more people out of poverty.
Rwanda targets to create at least 200,000 off-farm jobs a year, and commercialization of agriculture will go a long way in achieving part of this goal.