Rwanda Food Fellows have been urged to lend their skills and expertise to the formation of Rwanda’s new plan for agricultural development.
Speaking to Fellows during a townhall on Rwanda’s food systems policies, African Food Fellowship board member Prof Alfred Bizoza encouraged participants to contribute to the development of the fifth Strategic Plan for Agriculture Transformation (PSTA5), which guides the country’s priorities in the agricultural sector.
Consultations to craft the plan are ongoing among stakeholders and the private sector to devise initiatives, investment areas, and policies to accelerate the transformation of the country’s food system.
“Fellows should take part in this process. You are key actors and these are developments you need to watch closely as the food system continues to evolve,” said Prof. Bizoza, an agriculture economist and lecturer at the University of Rwanda, who is among key leaders coordinating national dialogues on food system transformation in Rwanda. He joined the African Food Fellowship board in April this year.
Rwanda Food Fellows have been collaborating on food systems initiatives across the impact areas of Sustainable Land Use, Access to Nutritious Foods, and Food Technology and Trade. They are keen to leverage avenues in the national food system dialogues to forge ties with stakeholders beyond the Fellowship to speed up desired change.
“A few of us are collaborating on projects at the intersection of Food Tech and Trade and Sustainable Land Use, and we are thinking about how to best engage national stakeholders including government through a working group. We are eager to participate in the national dialogues and align our work with what’s going on at the national level,” said Food Tech and Trade Fellow Jennifer Kamoso.
One of the platforms that Fellows have used to connect and collaborate with other actors in the Rwandan food system includes the inaugural Rwanda Transform Food Festival held in June this year in Kigali.
The Festival brought together food systems innovators, entrepreneurs, practitioners, and decision-makers working across government, private sector, civil society, and community groups, among others, to delve into ways to work together to address existing and emerging issues in Rwanda’s food systems.
The guest of honour was the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) Dr. Olivier Kamana, who hailed the Rwanda Transform Food Festival for raising the profile of key issues that need the most attention by food system actors as the country takes stock of its the agriculture sector. He also called on Fellows to actively participate in formulating the PSTA5.
“These are actors who have expertise in different fields in the food system who we believe can contribute a lot in the ongoing process of designing the next phase of the Strategic Plan for Agriculture Transformation (PSTA5). We see them as key stakeholders who will make important additions to our strategy,” he said.
Rwanda’s previous agriculture strategic plans focused mostly on making sure there are sufficient food supplies and increased space for cultivation through consolidation of fragmented arable land parcels under the crop and livestock intensification programme, which eased farmers’ access to inputs, extension services, and markets.
Midterm assessments that are guiding the formulation of the next strategy indicate that while these helped the country gradually achieve increased productivity and efficiency in agriculture, there are prevailing issues which include limited production diversity to meet population nutritional needs and technical inefficiencies of some farming systems.
These, coupled with high vulnerability to climate change and related challenges such as pests and diseases, as well as food insecurity for at least 20 percent of the population, are expected to be the focus of the next agriculture sector strategic plan.