HUYE - The Minister of Education, Dr Charles Murigande, who is also the Chancellor of the National University of Rwanda (NUR), has underscored the importance of research in guiding policy makers on resource allocation as they seek to address the problem of food security and undernourishment which constitute major impediments to development.
Officially opening the 3rd National University of Rwanda annual International Scientific Research Conference on Tuesday, Murigande said that solutions to these challenges should be based on practical experiences, but most of all, on scientific evidence enshrined in research both – fundamental and applied.
He said that the conference comes timely as Rwanda and many other poor countries around the world enter the remaining five-year journey towards the Millennium Development Goals.
“Food and nutrition security and integrated pest management comes timely ... as it appears that one of the most likely MDG to be missed is the first - that of reducing by half the proportion of people living under poverty line...and also reducing by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger,” Murigande said.
“It will be difficult to achieve the aims of national development plans if the constraints imposed by undernourishment of the population are not dealt with.”
He said that one of the main pillars of the vision 2020 - a development strategy aimed at transforming Rwanda into a middle income country by that year, is the modernisation of the agricultural sector to ensure food security and also reduce trade deficit through agriculture exports.
Murigande noted that although for the last four years Rwanda has been producing enough food to feed her population, the country still faces high levels of malnutrition due to many factors which include the lack of adequate knowledge on how to have a balanced diet, poor food distribution channels and disorganised internal markets.
“The government of Rwanda is cognisant of the fact that improving nutrition requires multi-sectoral actions to ensure that everyone enjoys adequate nutrition. The well being of a population determines the countries productivity level which is why government treats nutrition as a crucial component of development,” Murigande told researchers.
He added that researchers at the conference will provide useful insight on how these challenges will be addressed.
Over 100 research papers will be presented during the three day conference many of which are expected to be published in indexed international journals.