With only five years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), Rwanda is sure it will halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger; the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Agnes Kalibata has said.
In an exclusive interview with The New Times, Kalibata declared that the progress the country has made in agriculture continues to provide optimism that Rwanda will achieve the goal before the deadline.
“Three years ago, 20 out of the 30 districts in this country suffered from food insecurity, meaning that they were exceptionally below the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) standards. However, since the beginning of this year, no single district is below the required food security base. I am 100 percent sure that we can achieve the MDG 1 goal,” she said
Citing Bugesera as one of the success stories, being a district that once suffered from food insecurity, Kalibata pointed out that with such a “shining light”, there was reason to hope that hunger would be completely stamped out.
She pointed out that as a result, the government had picked out four areas where it was focusing its energies.
“We are concentrating on four areas that are ongoing; the One-Cow-per-Family program, land and crop intensification program, the rice program in marshlands and terracing,” she said
Kalibata’s comments come in the wake of Action Aid’s Hunger Scorecard that placed Rwanda in the 11th position, on the list of developing countries in the fight against hunger.
Kalibata attributed the improvement in the ranking to the food security initiative that was introduced in 2007 whereby land consolidation was given priority. So far, she says, 250,000 hectares of land has been consolidated compared to the previous 70.000 hectares in 2007.
She pointed out that the number of farmers with access to quality seeds and fertilizers is higher, and the government was doing everything possible to equip them with what they need to achieve positive results.
The Action Aid report attributes Rwanda’s improvement to the new government policy which supports small-scale farmers.
“This progress was made possible by a new government policy which supports smallholders with crucial farming tools and seeds, while expanding irrigation and supporting environmentally sustainable production methods to tackle the endemic problems of soil erosion in the country,” the report says
Agriculture in Rwanda has improved mainly due to the increased investment in agriculture, which rose by 30 percent between 2007 and 2009.