Over 360, 000 farmers across the country are expected to benefit from a five-year (2016-2020) agriculture business plan announced by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) on Tuesday in Kigali.
Under the programme, AGRA will invest $25 million (about Rwf18.7bn) expected to boost the agriculture sector.
The initiative has different areas of focus, such as increasing financial access to farmers, expanding private sector investment in agriculture, increasing trade and access to markets for farmers through expansion of post-harvest management technologies, women and youth empowerment, among others.
Tony Nsanganira, the minister of state for Agriculture, in his remarks welcomed the plan which he said is aligned with existing agriculture programmes in the country.
“We are so appreciative of the partnership with AGRA since 2007. This business plan is not a standalone instrument. It is aligned with other agricultural transformation programmes in place as well as Vision 2020,” he said.
“This business plan comes at a time when we are revising agriculture policy of 2003/04. This is a very good alignment with the new policy and it will complement the policy,” he said.
Nsanganira noted that agriculture has played a big role in economic growth, contributing to poverty reduction in rural areas, especially where most farmers practice modern agriculture.
“Agriculture has grown at a rate of 5 to 6 per cent but we are targeting 8. 5 per cent growth rate for the sector under the EDPRS II. To achieve this target, we are required to do something different. Having a good business plan is not enough, implementation is more important. All partners should harmonise efforts to achieve these plans,” he said.
AGRA business plan will also focus on developing four crops namely, maize, soya beans, Irish potato and rice. These are deemed to have the potential to improve food security and incomes for farmers because they are marketable, both regionally and internationally.
According to Emime Ndihokubwayo, AGRA programme officer, the organisation will partner with the government and offer technical assistance to farmers as well as coordinate farmers to reduce the perceived risk in agriculture sector on the part of financial institutions to enhance access to finance.
“The programme will also help smallholder farmers get quality seeds, fertilisers, access to market for their products as well as training,” she said.
Since 2006, AGRA works in 18 countries across Africa.