Opinion: Farmers should be involved when designing agricultural policies

Last week, Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture launched consultations on the country’s Fourth five-year Strategic Plan that Seeks to Transform Agriculture (PSTA 4) into a more robust, market-oriented and professional sector.

The plan will build on the gains of PSTA 3 that ends in June next year by helping increase the sector’s productivity by encouraging modern and commercial farming.

Already, the plan has helped spur output through farmer trainings and improved access to inputs like fertilisers, pesticides and quality seeds. It is also credited for reducing poverty levels to the current 39.1 per cent from 44.9 per cent in 2010.

The ministry acknowledges that the subsistence nature of the local agriculture sector presents challenges like low productivity, post-harvest handling and quality issues, among others. Besides, under PSTA 3, the government had targeted annual growth of 8.5 per cent, but the sector has been expanding at 5 per cent per annum, on average.

 Therefore, with just over one year to June 2018, more needs to be done to attain the targeted growth rate. That’s why it is critical for the Agriculture ministry to involve farmers and other stakeholders, including the private sector, to ensure continued support of the programme.

It should also be farmer-centred to create a sense of ownership for it to succeed and achieve its intended goals: spur production, create more jobs and improve household incomes.

There is also need to ease access to finance and markets to boost farmers’ morale and sustainable production. This way, the country will be food secure, attract more investments into the sector, create sustainable market linkages, and boost farmer incomes.

The agriculture sector presently employs 72 per cent of the Rwandan population, a huge challenge requiring innovative ways to build on the achievements of PSTA 3 in the forthcoming strategic plan and take the sector to the next level.

Source: The New Times

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