Rwanda: Minagri, FAO Launch Programme for Sustainable Food Systems

28 November 2023

In an effort to advance sustainable agriculture and food systems, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have initiated the first training session of the PSTA 5 "Rwanda Agriculture and Food Systems - Policy Learning Programme" (PLP). This groundbreaking 10-month program aims to integrate food system development into actions, policies, and investments.

Building on the recent Knowledge Seminar of the 5th Rwanda Strategic Plan for Agriculture Transformation (PSTA 5), officiated by the Minister of agriculture, Dr Ildephonse Musafiri, the PLP will delve into six thematic areas. These encompass Food Systems, Nutrition and Healthy Diet, Trade, Political Economy Approaches to Governance, Climate-Resilient Food Systems, and Public-Private Partnerships for Research and Innovation.

The Policy Learning Programme, slated to run from for 10 months, will consist of one-week sessions for each thematic area. The inaugural session, focusing on Food Systems, kicked off on November 27 in Musanze. This collaborative effort includes the Institute for Innovation and Public Policy, University College of London, leveraging their expertise in innovative policy design using systems approaches.

Speaking at the opening session, Dr Chantal Ingabire, Director General of Planning for the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, emphasized the PLP's objective to ensure that policies create conducive conditions for impactful investments in agriculture and food systems, contributing to the nation's economy.

She said; "The PSTA 5 Policy Learning Programme aims at ensuring that policies set the right conditions for investments in agriculture and food systems to have a real impact on our economy."

She added that "There is no single actor, technology or discipline that can provide all the solutions that we seek. This is why a more joined-up systemic approach is needed with innovations in policymaking, governance, research, multistakeholder collaboration and investments in agriculture and technologies are urgently needed."

With a cohort of 30 senior and technical experts from various government departments, the PLP aims to equip participants with skills in systems thinking, fostering improved policy development and governance arrangements.

This diverse group includes representatives from MINAGRI, Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resource Board (RAB), National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), Ministries of Trade and Industries, Environment, Youth, Finances, as well as the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR).

Coumba Sow, FAO Country Representative in Rwanda, said; said "This long week session on "Systems approach for food and agriculture in Rwanda", an applied learning programme by FAO and UCL Institute of Innovation and Public Purpose will ensure the adequacy of the capacities of the policy makers and help public sector staff from various sectors better understand the concept of agriculture linked to food systems and complex challenges, and guidance on how the policies and strategies are developed in a way that facilitates the design, financing and implementation in a food system approach."

Rwanda has made progress through huge reconstruction efforts and significant economic growth, along with the development of several policies, strategies, and programmes.

Rwanda has made remarkable progress in its agricultural sector, aligning with sustainable development goals. Recognizing the agrifood system as crucial for achieving the 2030 Agenda, the government's bottom-up approach has played a pivotal role in transformation efforts.

However, challenges persist, ranging from climate change to food loss and waste, malnutrition, and food insecurity. Coumba Sow emphasized the urgency of a paradigm shift, stating that traditional approaches to agriculture are no longer sufficient. The collaboration should extend beyond conventional boundaries, involving sectors such as energy, health, family, youth, women, environment, local government, finances, statistics, academia, trade, and industries.

As Rwanda navigates post-COVID conditions, economic factors, and global conflicts, the Policy Learning Programme signals a proactive step towards a resilient and sustainable future for the nation's agrifood systems.

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