Rwanda got the highest score, on Agricultural Transformation in Africa, and emerged 2017 Best performing country in implementing the seven commitments of the June 2014 Malabo Declaration.
The country scored 6.1 out of 10 when the 3.94 benchmark was set as the minimum score for a country to be on track of achieving the Malabo targets by 2025.
Rwanda is followed by Ethiopia, with 5.3.
The report, which is part of the designed Biennial Reporting Mechanism, was done by the African Union Commission and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency together with the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Member States, in collaboration with other partners.
“We wish to acknowledge the tremendous efforts made by all Member States, despite the numerous challenges faced to increase readiness for providing individual quality country reports, and we particularly wish to acknowledge efforts of the Republic of Rwanda for reporting highest performances in 2017 for achieving the Malabo Declaration,” reads part of the report.
Out of the 43 Member States that reported progress in implementing the Malabo declaration, only 17 are reported to be on track toward achieving the commitments by 2025.
The Malabo Commitments were translated into seven thematic areas of performance such as enhancing investment finance in agriculture; ending hunger in Africa by 2025; halving poverty by 2025 and upholding the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP).
It also includes inclusive agricultural growth and transformation; boosting intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services; enhancing resilience of livelihoods and production systems to climate variability and other related risks; and strengthening mutual accountability to actions and results.
The Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme was adopted by the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in 2003 in Maputo, Mozambique as the flagship programme of the African Union for agriculture and food security.
It sets broad targets of 6 per cent annual growth in agricultural GDP (output), and allocation of at least 10 per cent of public expenditures to the agricultural sector.
Commenting on the report, the Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr Gerardine Mukeshimana, stressed the importance of agriculture in poverty eradication in Africa.
While the country needs to improve agriculture financing, the minister highlighted Rwanda’s major areas of improvement including policy, gender, foreign investment, and crops irrigation.
Overall, Africa did not perform well in implementing the commitments for agriculture advancement with many countries failing to even get the minimum required score.
“This performance implies that we are not progressing well in line with our wish as a continent, to be the bread basket of the world. It requires countries to put in more efforts,” said Mukeshimana.
The minister said the areas that Rwanda needs to focus on include fighting malnutrition especially stunting among children, which stands at about 38 per cent.
“We still have a long journey to make to address stunting. That is why these days, the Government put in more efforts in providing free nutritious fortified flour for porridge to vulnerable children and expectant mothers, as well as promoting several programmes for milk, and egg production from small livestock to fast-track eradication of malnutrition among children,” she said.
According to the chairman of Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness (RYAF), Jean-Baptiste Hategekimana, by end of February, there will be over 1,000 university graduates in agriculture sector to help farmers [under an internship programme].
Currently, the organisation has close to 1,300 members grouped into five clusters namely crop production, livestock production, agro-processing (animal and crops), other agro-services, which include packaging, inputs, extension services, mechanissation, among others, and information communication technologies (ICTs) for agriculture.
“We still need to take bold steps forward. We need more innovations, more inventions, and agriculture diversification,” he told The New Times.
More efforts needed to increase agric funding
Rwanda’s agriculture financing stands at 7.5 per cent.
Hategekimana said access to finance is still a challenge which affects implementation of youth’s agricultural and livestock projects.
“Youth do not have collateral, and own no land. If you ask them for collateral, you are hindering their business,” he said.
The minister said that they are currently working with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to develop a comprehensive programme on agriculture financing.
According to information from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, about Rwf11.5 billion was allocated on seeds and fertilisers in line with developing rural areas in 2017/2018 fiscal year.
About 1,367 hectares of land will be covered under hillside irrigation, while 3,106 hectares of marshlands will also be irrigated.
Equipment to help farmers irrigate crops on 5,844 hectares will be provided this year, officials say.