The agriculture ministry has launched a three-year project that seeks to evaluate the impact of investments in the sector, especially on farmer’s livelihoods and socio-economic development.
The “Increasing evidence in agricultural policy-making” joint project will be conducted under a partnership of the agriculture ministry, World Bank and the European Union, Jean Claude Kayisinga, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, said.
It will focus on the impact of projects such as irrigation, rural feeder roads, terracing, land husbandry, post-harvest handling, water harvesting, and rural finance, among others. The survey will also cover programmes funded by development partners.
Speaking during the stakeholder engagement workshop on Monday, Kayisinga said the project will inform policy formulation as well as help improve delivery of agriculture sector programmes that are geared at improving the sector’s productivity and farmers’ welfare. “We are currently drafting phase four of the strategic plan for the transformation of agriculture in Rwanda. Therefore, we need evidence-based data to inform agriculture policy-making to help us design projects that will transform the sector and lives of farmers,” he said.
“The project will assess the impact of what we have been doing so far. This will enable us to improve and plug any gaps or barriers therein.”
Dr Charles Murekezi, the director general for agriculture at the ministry, said the evaluation project will help guide the scaling up of the hillside irrigation programme after completion of a pilot study.
“A recent study on impact of hillside irrigation during the pilot phase found that access to fertilisers was still a big challenge. So, we decided to help them work with SACCOs and also encouraged them to save.
“Through this approach, farmers were able to buy fertilisers,” he said.
There were however complaints about affordability.
Plugging the gaps
Florence Kondylis, a senior economist at World Bank Rwanda, said the project is important to help guide the realisation of SDG2 that seeks to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition, as well as promote sustainable agriculture.
Achieving these would help to double agriculture productivity and income of small scale food producers by 2030, which calls for research to understand the kind investments needed to achieve this goal, according to Kondylis.
“In 2015, we conducted a study on the impact of trainings, innovations and technologies in agriculture in Africa, which indicated the need for research-supported data to be able to transform rural communities,” she said.
She said research-based information is crucial to address sector challenges, including knowledge gap in adoption of technologies, financial constraints, rural infrastructure, commercialisation, market access and prices, as well as land issues, natural resources management, food security and resilience.
“We want to ensure that funding for agriculture projects is efficiently utilised to improve the sector and farmers’ lives. It is also important to understand the kind of investment required to ensure socio-economic development,” Kondylis added.
Arnaud De Varssay, the European Union team leader and specialist in rural development, said they have provided €200 million support budget to Rwanda, running from 2014 to 2020 of which $3 million (about Rwf2.5 billion) will fund the joint study on the impact of agriculture investments in the country. He said the results will be provided to communities while the project will also introduce capacity building in evaluation for agriculture ministry staff.
What farmers, researchers say
Dr Eric Ndushabandi, an independent researcher, called for involvement and consultation of farmers, local leaders and cooperatives during the research.
Farmers should be consulted and involved in project planning, execution and evaluation, added Joseph Gafaranga, a farmer.
“We would also like results from the research to be shared with farmers if they are to embrace and implement the study recommendations,” said the farmer.