New pathways to turn smallholders into sustainable agribusinesses
By CATHERINE RIUNGU
July 15, 2018, Nairobi. This year’s African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF 2018), will be held in Rwanda, the first time the county will be hosting the key meeting.
The annual agricultural forum is organised by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and is slated for September 3-7.
The decision is a big recognition for the Paul Kagame-led East African nation, reputed as among the few that have dedicated 10 per cent of their budgets to agricultural development in line with the 2003 Maputo Declaration that spelt out the steps Africa needs to take for food security.
Incidentally, Agnes Kalibata, AGRA’s president, will be going back home, not only being Rwandese but also having been the country’s Minister for Agriculture when the industry underwent globally acclaimed transformation in its approach to farming.
This year’s forum will run under the theme Lead, Measure, Grow: Enabling new pathways to turn smallholders into sustainable agribusinesses.
Dr Kalibata, said that the country was selected to host the forum largely due to its leading role as a model in transforming agriculture both at home and across the continent.
In January 2018, at the AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Rwanda was recognised by the African Union Commission as the top performing nation on the continent in the pursuit of agricultural goals and targets, scoring 6.1 out of a possible 10.
Dr Kalibata was among the key speakers at the inaugural AGRF in Accra, Ghana, where she presented a paper on Rwanda’s One Cow Per Family programme that has since been replicated in many other countries on the continent. She spearheaded the project.
“We are excited to be building on Rwanda’s reputation as the country that has been able to demonstrate how Africa can build an agriculture system that is functional,” Dr Kalibata said, adding that the country’s performance in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) is something that they would like to share with other countries.
CAADP is Africa’s policy framework for agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic growth and prosperity for all.
The 2016 edition, hosted by Kenya, for example, resulted in commitments of more than US$30 billion to support the continent with investments to increase production, income, and employment for smallholder farmers and local African agriculture businesses over the next ten years.
The 2017 edition, held in Côte d’Ivoire, saw close to US$6.5 billion worth of business deals clinched in palm oil, pulses, potato, and rice subsectors.
Rwanda’s Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Gérardine Mukeshimana, said the country is looking forward to sharing its experience with the rest of the continent.
“Rwanda is also keen on gaining insights from our peers. We must continue to improve at understanding new advances and deploying new solutions that will enable us all to tap into the full potential of our continent,” she noted.
Currently, agriculture is the economic mainstay of the majority of households in Rwanda and makes a significant contribution to the economy. The sector accounts for about 30 per cent of the GDP and employs about 69 per cent of the labour force.
The upcoming agriculture forum is expected to draw more than 1,500 delegates.
The 7th edition of the forum will seek to further the advancement of inclusive agricultural transformation at the heart of the continent’s broader economic transformation agenda and Agenda 2063, organisers said.