Even when a vast majority of rural Rwandans are engaged in agriculture, they prefer to send their produce to the market leaving them with very little for consumption, says a new report.
The 2019 Global Food Policy Report (GFPR) released Friday May 3 at an event in Kigali attended by the Prime Minister Dr Edouard Ngirente says 90 percent of Rwandans live in rural areas.
From this number, at least 80 percent are in agriculture. The problem however, says the report by the International Food Policy Research Institute, the food they are growing is sold in the markets.
Many households end up hungry, with malnourished and stunted children, says the study.
44 percent of the children are stunted due to malnutrition. Moreover, 50 percent of children under the age 15 years are living in poverty compared to 40 percent of adults.
“We have to end hunger by 2025,” said Shenggen Fan, the Institute’s director general, adding, “by highlighting the agency of rural revitalization to address the crisis in rural areas where people around the World continue to struggle with food insecurity, persistent, poverty and inequality and environment degradation.”
He added: “We shall achieve this through bringing the stakeholders together to set priorities, innovative and learn, fine-tune actions, build on success, and synthesize sharable lessons in order to accelerate progress.”
Rwanda is not alone, as the same situation replicates in many other countries that are dependent on agriculture.
PM Dr Ngirente admitted government was aware of the situation and was implementing programs to reverse the trend.
“Agriculture is the main activity [in our country], however many of the young generation are leaving the rural areas for the cities especially Kigali,” he said.
“We strongly believe that this report will contribute to the emergence of global food policy shifts towards high investment and capitalization for increased productivity and competitiveness of the Agriculture Sector.”
He told delegates at the one-day event that government was setting up factories and facilitating private farmers to establish them, to add value to their produce, which will increase their incomes.
Government, he added, has also been extending necessary services to rural areas such as water and sanitation, schools, hospitals and electricity.
“We have also to increase our investment in agriculture as well as promoting the use of modern technologies,” he said.
The 2019 GFPR highlights the agency of rural revitalization to address the crisis in rural areas where people around the world continue to struggle with food insecurity, persistent poverty and inequality, and environmental degradation.
Meanwhile, on Thursday May 2, a Caravan project was launched, which has a set of mobile equipment embedded with modern soil testing technologies.
Starting with 50,000ha located in Burera, Musanze, Nyabihu and Rubavu districts for the pilot phase, the Caravan will be used by farmers to test their soils to determine how best to use it. They will also be able to know how much fertilizers they need.
The Caravan project is a precursor to the establishment of a $38m fertilizer blending facility which is a joint venture involving Morocco firm OCP Africa and the Rwandan government.