– The Vice President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Dominik Ziller, will meet with Edouard Ngirente, Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda, as well as other high-level government officials during a visit starting 9 May. Ziller will discuss how to further strengthen collaboration between the Government of Rwanda and IFAD to continue to pave the way for successful implementation of the government’s Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture, which calls for moving agriculture from subsistence to a more knowledge-intensive, competitive and market-oriented sector.
“Rwanda is a prominent example of how targeted investment in agriculture has led to economic growth – which can be a model for other African countries to follow,” said Ziller prior to his departure. “We believe that agriculture is central to eliminating hunger, improving nutrition, eradicating poverty and empowering marginalized people. As the Rwandan experience has shown, it can play a key role in creating business opportunities in rural areas, so that young people do not have to leave to find work. More needs to be done and IFAD stands ready to support the Government of Rwanda’s efforts to transform the agriculture sector to the benefit of small-holder farmers and other rural people.”
Agriculture remains the backbone of Rwanda’s economy, accounting for one third of GDP and generating about 67 per cent of total employment. Although a great part of GDP growth over recent years can be attributed to improved performance in agriculture, the sector still remains vulnerable to climate change. About 80 per cent of adults in rural communities are subsistence farmers who rely on rain-fed production systems. Women dominate the rural labour force, with about 92 per cent engaged in agriculture in some form. Rwanda’s main food crops include sorghum, banana, beans, sweet potato and cassava. But over the past decade, maize, rice, Irish potato, fruits and vegetables have emerged as important crops grown by small-scale farmers. Tea and coffee represent by far the main traditional export crops, providing about 70 per cent of agricultural export earnings.
In Rwanda, Covid-19, combined with subsequent measures to contain the spread of the virus, deepened the country’s economic slowdown such that real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth considerably declined to -0.2% in 2020. The increased unemployment rate is due to the shutdown of major businesses during the COVID-19 related lockdown and is likely to increase the poverty rate.
However, the International Monetary Fund projected a rebound in real GDP growth to 5.1 percent in 2021 and 7.0 percent in 2022. To support the Rwandan small-scale farmers to mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 and improve their food security, resilience and livelihoods, IFAD has provided Rwanda with US$1.4million through its Rural Poor Stimulus Facility launched in April 2020.
While in Kigali, Ziller will meet with Geraldine Mukeshimana, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, and Uzziel Ndaguimana, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, to discuss the partnership between IFAD and Rwanda. They will be looking at how investments in climate smart, small-scale family agriculture in support of rural women and young people are central to Rwanda’s sustainable rural transformation agenda. He will also meet with representatives of other United Nations agencies working in Rwanda.
Ziller will visit the IFAD-supported Post-Harvest and Agribusiness Support Project in the District of Ruhango, and the Rwanda Dairy Development Project in Kamonyi District to see first-hand how project participants have improved their lives and discuss with them what further challenges they face.
Since 1981, IFAD has financed 19 rural development programmes and projects in Rwanda for a total value of US$631.5 million, of which IFAD has contributed $358.0 million, directly benefiting about 1.5 million rural households.