Private sector urged to venture into agriculture


A farmer displays produce in Musanze District. As the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources works on the fourth Strategic Plan for the transformation of agriculture sector in the country, officials have called on the private sector to consider agriculture as a lucrative business and invest more in transforming it. Timothy Kisambira.

As the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources works on the fourth Strategic Plan for the transformational agriculture in the country, officials have called on the private sector to consider agriculture as a lucrative business and invest more in transforming it.

They said this in Kigali, yesterday, during a meeting convened to gather ideas to be embedded in the strategic plan that will serve as a blueprint to guide public investment in the agriculture sector.

It was noted that the agriculture sector, which employs over 80 per cent of the country’s workforce, can hardly thrive if the private sector is not involved because of the capital that is normally required.

For instance, mechanisation in agriculture is still at 19 per cent in general and the private sector has done little to modernise it, the officials observed.

“We would like the private sector to be the centre; agriculture should be considered as a business not just an activity for poor people but an activity that can generate wealth,” said Dr Octave Semwaga, the director-general of Planning at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.

“We would like the private sector to see opportunities in agriculture and partner with us to modernise the sector. Benefits are many, from employment and wealth generation, to ensuring food security in the country.”


Dr Semwaga speaks at the meeting in Kigali yesterday. Timothy Kisambira.

Semwaga said the private sector should tap into various areas of agriculture such as value chain, input supply, boosting production and then after production such as in processing and the commercialisation.

“I think we are making headway in encouraging the private sector to appreciate and tap into the opportunities in the sector. The questions they ask are exactly questions we are trying to tackle (in the strategic plan); the issue of land, promoting organic agriculture and linking them to markets. We already have people who want to invest in the sector and I believe in about six years, the sector will be totally transformed,” he said.

Recommendations

At the event, representatives of local agri-businesses and farmers from around the country discussed successes, lessons and challenges from the past five years, and drew up recommendations to be put in the new strategic plan.

Participants also suggested key priority areas for consideration by the Government.

“We want all stakeholders to contribute in fine-tuning of this plan and be involved in its implementation with full knowledge of all components,” said Jean Claude Kayisinga, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.

In general, the PSTA IV will focus on attracting and expanding private sector investment in the agriculture sector.

In doing so, the new strategic plan aims to further advance the Government’s goal of achieving an annual growth rate of at least 8.5 per cent in the agricultural sector.

The new strategic plan will be finalised by December 2017, and will take effect in June 2018.

“The Private Sector Federation always supports all policies that aim at improving the business environment in the country. This is. therefore. an opportunity for farmers to influence business reforms through this dialogue,” said Donatien Mungwarareba, the PSF acting chief advocacy officer.

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