A four-day conference bringing together farm researchers and experts from the Great Lakes region and beyond, opened in Kigali, yesterday, to take stock of food security challenges in the region and chart the way forward to help revolutionise the agricultural sector.
The gathering could not have come at a better time, considering the continued food crisis across the region, particularly in parts of Eastern Africa.
Only last week, Action Aid released a report dubbed, ‘HungerFREE Scorecard’, which examined the vulnerability and preparedness of 28 developing countries with regard to food security and climate change.
All the three countries at the heart of the Great Lakes region were among those assessed, with the Democratic Republic of Congo topping the list of the sampled countries as the most vulnerable, followed by Burundi. With regard to capacity and preparedness, Rwanda ranked third after Brazil and Malawi.
That a region highly recognised as a potential bread basket for the rest of the continent remains vulnerable to food shortages and hunger is cause for serious concern.
Through the Crop Intensification Programme, Rwanda has devised strategies to ensure not only food security, but also become a food-exportiing nation. However, more remains to be done to translate policies into real harvests.
Countries in the sub-Saharan Africa, too, will need to redouble their efforts and make the most of their relatively fertile soils, by employing latest technologies in agriculture. They need to honour their promises to put at least 10 percent of their annual budgets into the agricultural sector.
This will not only help avert food shortages in the future but will also check prices, while, at the same time, transforming the lives of small scale farmers, who constitute the majority of the population.