RWANDA – Rwanda has launched the fourth Agriculture Transformation Strategy (PST4) that is designed to significantly increase farm productivity and promote value addition to food, for US$3.14 million (Rw2.7 trillion), AllAfrica reported.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), the five-year plan strategy has four priority areas; innovation and extension, productivity and resilience, inclusive markets and value addition as well as enabling environment and responsive institutions.

Speaking at the official launch of the strategy in Kigali, Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said that if successfully implemented, a significant number of Rwandans will be elevated out of poverty.

According to the forth Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV4) published by the National Institute of Statistics, by 2024, the number of Rwandans living in poverty will be down to just 15 percent. In 2015, the figure was at 39.1 per cent.

The Prime Minister said that agriculture GDP grew at 6% on average in the concluded PSTA3, pointing out that in the PSTA4, the target is to achieve an average of 10% of the sector’s growth.

“Therefore, in the PSTA4, many achievements are expected. We are planning to increase agriculture growth and create jobs,” Ngirente said.

As outlined in the Government’s National Strategy for Transformation which will run from 2017 to 2024, Ngirente said that the target is to create 214,000 jobs per year.

The jobs, he said, will be created in primary agriculture production at farm level, agro-processing industry, trade and restaurant business.

“We are also trying to raise the rate of mechanised farm operations, and ensure that the country is fully food and nutrition secure,” the Premier added.

One of the tools for Rwanda to achieve the agricultural goals is the development of the PSTA4, the premier said.

“It targets to modernise and increase the production of agriculture and livestock,” he said, observing that it is in line with the African Union’s CAADP and that the government of Rwanda reiterates its commitment to continue to sustain the CAADP momentum and achieve the Malabo Declaration goals and targets which seek to achieve prosperity for all, and tackle hunger.

“Those good strides cannot be attained without a strong investment in agriculture. Therefore, the government will continue to invest in agriculture research, extension services, resilience, market development, and innovation.

The Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Gerardine Mukeshimana said that PSTA4 will build capacities of farmers and enhance research so that they can cope with the unpredictability of extreme weather.

“Climate change is real. Though we cannot stop it, we can plan for it. Some interventions include erosion control to ensure that floods are not washing away farmers’ crops, irrigation, provide weather information to farmers and agriculture insurance,” she said.

The Private sector is expected to finance the strategy to the tune of about US$488.3 million (Rwf420 billion).

Speaking to The New Times, the Chairperson of the chamber of Rwanda farmers at private Sector Federation, Christine Murebwayire said that the funds will come from the private investors who venture into fertilisers, seeds, and farming practices, as well as post-harvest handling activities.