The government and the Kingdom of Netherlands have signed a Rwf8.5 billion grant to finance the maintenance and rehabilitation of feeder roads in Rwanda.
The project will ease farmers' accessibility to the markets through maintenance of 664 kilometres and rehabilitation of 163 kilometres of road networks in Nyamasheke, Rusizi, Burera, Musanze and Gicumbi districts, according Amb. Claver Gatete, the minister for finance and economic planning.
"Funds will mainly be allocated to both works and capacity building in road rehabilitation and maintenance," Amb. Gatete said.
Farmers' access to markets
The minister said feeder roads development is among the post-harvest programmes within the Agriculture Sector Strategy, which aims to boost farmers' incomes through reduced transport costs and easy access to markets.
"Accessing market is a major bottleneck to farmers because of impassable rural roads," he said.
The minister also noted that the funds come as additional support to other interventions within the Rwanda Local Decentralisation
Support and rural development, which is in line with the Second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS2) programme.
"You can't talk about rural development without talking about agriculture and feeder roads," he added.
The Minister for Agriculture, Dr Agnes Kalibata, said availing farmers with modern infrastructure, including roads, will not only help address the challenge of market accessibility but also reduce the cost of production and transport.
"The fund is coming at the right time when we are looking at agriculture playing a pivotal role in the transformation of the country through creation of employment opportunities, boosting the export industry and improving the overall livelihood of farmers," Dr Kalibata said.
Leaon Cuelenaere, the Dutch Ambassador to Rwanda, said her country is committed to supporting Rwanda because of the value the country has placed on economic development.
"It shows you our fantastic cooperation and commitment we have with Rwanda, there is no doubt that everything is working out in this country," Cuelenaere said.
The Dutch envoy said availing affordable and renewable energy and modern infrastructure to entrepreneurs will fast-track economic sustainability.
The project is also expected to benefit youth and women who will be employed during the implementation process.
Sixty-three road maintenance cooperatives, largely made up of youth and women, are expected to be employed during this project implementation.
The feeder road project is expected to start before the end of December and end in May 2016.
This year, Netherlands has provided more than Rwf38 billion to support decentralisation, energy and justice sectors. Last month, Rwanda signed a Euro 4 million (about Rwf3.5 billion) funding deal with the Kingdom of Netherlands to support the electricity access rollout programme.
Agriculture employs more than 80 per cent of the total population and contributes about 39 per cent growth domestic product of the economy.