Agriculture in Rwanda: Ownership and Improving Delivery #hlf4

By Agnes Matilda Kalibata, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources of Rwanda

As the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Busan, South Korea, commences, Rwanda has a chance to convey its way of doing business in a ever–changing aid architecture. The meeting centers on the Paris Declaration, a tool for donors and developing countries to hold each other to account. In Busan, a large and increasingly mixed community of development stakeholders will look back while seeking to outline the future of aid. Rwanda’s experiences are particularly valid for discussion in Busan. Rwanda’s story of aid effectiveness is one of strong leadership and meeting the challenges faced in managing developmental assistance. 

From the President’s lead, vision and ownership has allowed Rwanda to stay focused.  In the agriculture sector, over the past four years Rwanda has received strong support both from aid multilaterals and bilaterals with different modalities, to emerging countries such as India and Brazil, that have begun to provide public and importantly private sector investment in the country, to new cross-cutting funds such as Climate Change funding. Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) has sought to improve the efficiency of government structures to deal with various development interventions. Primarily, the sector strategy, the Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture II (PSTA II), allows us to streamline and harmonize assistance through our programs that focus on, among others, irrigation, crop intensification through input provision, post-harvest handling and storage improvements and export promotion. This year, due to this clarity, time-bound respect for results and strong programming, numerous bilaterals, such as DFID and USAID, are seeking to provide budget support to the agriculture sector. 

The last four years have been characterized by turning these investments and support into food security and poverty reduction for Rwandans. Rwanda has moved from a food insecure country with 20 out of the 30 district labeled food insecure by FAO standards to a food secure nation with no single district below the required food needs.  In August 2007, Rwanda initiated the Crop Intensification Program to increase both the levels of production and productivity amidst the various challenges that Rwanda faces.  Key pillars of this effort include, land consolidation, input access, reduction of post harvest losses and access to markets.  The program ensures that every farmer, however small, has access to improved seeds, fertilizers, extension and a market opportunity.  From a country that was in the past characterized by chronic food insecurity, Rwanda’s yields have quadrupled compared to what it was four years ago.  

In many ways Rwanda is a microcosm of the global future of agriculture – a world in which countries have to maintain food production in the face of decreasing arable lands, rising fuel prices, increasing populations and an increasingly volatile climate. For Rwanda, in particular, these challenges will not go away. Therefore, to stand the best chance in developing the country and reducing poverty, how we do the business of development is paramount. The meeting in Busan is a chance to improve this business. From a zero tolerance to corruption to upholding Paris Declaration principles, Rwanda has much to contribute to the Busan meeting. 

Also published in TerraViva