21 September 2017

Rwanda to Benefit From Agra's U.S.$280 Million Fund

Rwanda is among 11 African countries selected to benefit from a $280-million fund to support agriculture on the continent under the management of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), an organisation that works to improve agricultural output on the continent.

The fund, to be provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), will be used to spur agricultural transformation in the selected countries.

The beneficiary countries include Rwanda, Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique.

The funding was announced at the 2017 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, earlier this month as a multi-million dollar Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA).

AGRA's president Agnes Kalibata said the initiative will contribute greatly toward accelerating Africa's prosperity by promoting inclusive economies and jobs through agriculture.

"We have witnessed significant progress in our agricultural transformation over the past decade, with countries that have prioritised the sector recording notable drops in poverty levels, improved food security and inclusive economic growth," Kalibata, a former Rwandan minister for agriculture, said at the launch of the fund.

"PIATA will be critical in bringing key players together to support governments in their push to fully unlock the potential of Africa's smallholder farming and agribusiness as the surest drivers of job creation and the continent's inclusive economic transformation."

AGRA officials and the body's partners have said that PIATA will allow partners to align and complement existing efforts in the agricultural sector, especially by making new investments in developing better systems to deliver seeds and fertilisers to farmers, add value to their produce, and provide policy advice to governments.

The initiative is likely to be relevant to farmers in Rwanda if well implemented because the issues it seeks to address are their everyday challenges, some of the farmers' representatives told The New Times on Tuesday.

Vincent Havugimana, president of Rwanda Irish Potato Farmers' Cooperatives Federation, said it's always good news when stakeholders in the agriculture sector seeks to improve access to seeds and proper markets for their produce.

"The most pressing challenge for potato farmers right now is getting the right kind of seeds that are appropriate for our land. It's also important to work towards improving the market for Irish potatoes and supporting farmers' cooperatives so they can have decent distribution centres for their produce," he said.

Havugimana added that "whoever partner comes in the sector should work closely with farmers right from the seeds planting level, harvest, commercialisation, and adding value to the produce".

"It's very important for farmers to also make money like any other entrepreneurs," Havugimana said.

Founded in 2006, AGRA works to build systems, tools, and knowledge required for an inclusive agricultural transformation. It partners with governments and other stakeholders across the world to scale up support to countries' agricultural transformation plans.

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