RWANDA – The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) in collaboration with 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).

The 10-month program, aimed at advancing sustainable agriculture and food systems, marks the country’s significant step towards integrating comprehensive development strategies into actions, policies, and investments.

The launch of the PLP follows 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: 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, spanning 10 months, will consist of one-week sessions for each thematic area.

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, highlighted the PLP’s objective to create conducive conditions for investments in agriculture and food systems, contributing significantly to the nation’s economy.

“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 affirmed.

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

The 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, expressed confidence that the PLP would enhance the capacities of policymakers and public sector staff, providing insights into the complexities of agriculture linked to food systems.

She stressed the importance of a paradigm shift, stating that traditional approaches to agriculture are no longer sufficient, and collaboration should extend beyond conventional boundaries.

“Rwanda, despite making remarkable progress in its agricultural sector aligned with sustainable development goals, faces persistent challenges such as climate change, food loss and waste, malnutrition, and food insecurity.”

Additionally, Coumba Sow emphasized the urgency of embracing a holistic approach involving multiple sectors.