In an exclusive interview with The New Times, this week, the Minister of Agriculture, Agnes Kalibata, declared that Rwanda had achieved her food security targets, with the focus now on sustainability.
The minister insisted the government was not leaving anything to chance, outlining the various interventions in different parts of the country, with a view to increase food production and to streamline the entire value chain.
Agriculture employs more than 80 percent of the population, and, therefore, Rwanda has no choice but to transform the sector into a driving force for economic development.
The announcement that the government will create an agriculture development bank to increase financing to the sector, coupled with plans to train bankers to help monetize the sector, could not have come at a better time.
As the minister rightly stated, farmers, too, are business people, and will not produce if they are not sure about markets. The government is not only actively encouraging the private sector to invest in agriculture, but also to increase public funding in the sector.
The idea of dividing up the country into four ‘food basket’ clusters – North, Northwest, East and Milk Basins – will ensure that each region receives due attention, to maximise its full potential.
Banks need to understand that financing the agriculture sector means increasing the capacity of farmers, who will, in turn, become consistent clients in the future. It should be seen as a win-win scenario.
Co-operative societies should also be encouraged since they can serve as a vehicle for quick transformation. Any intervention should look at both volumes and quality.
In a region characterized by food scarcity, Rwandan farmers and businesses should take advantage and cash in. There is no doubt that agriculture offers great opportunity to deliver the country’s development agenda.