2019/20 budget: Agriculture sector faces Rwf151 billion deficit

By The New Times

Among sectors that face shortage of funding include irrigation, research and extension services. (File Photo)

The ministry of agriculture and relevant institutions had requested Rwf272.58 billion for the development of the sector in the 2019/20 fiscal year, but only Rwf121bn has been appropriated to the sector.

This was said Wednesday by Jean Claude Musabyimana, the Permanent Secretary during a meeting between agriculture ministry officials with members of the parliamentary standing committee on budget and national patrimony.

The officials were discussing the appropriations of the sector under the 2019/20 budget framework that was presented to parliament last week by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.

Among sectors that face shortage of funding, according to Musabyimana, include irrigation, research and extension services, as well as agriculture and livestock insurance.

“Some people might think that we have requested for a lot of money. However, it is not; because under the fourth Strategic plan for Agriculture Transformation (PSTA4), we should make over Rwf380 billion public invest [into agriculture],” he said.

The ministry, he said, had requested Rwf177.37 billion to support farmers to be resilient to climate change effects by adopting the use of modern tools and Climate Smart Agriculture Technique, but, this project was allocated only Rwf65.14 billion, implying a shortfall of Rwf112.22 billion.

“This is the most expensive activity in the agriculture and livestock sector as it helps farms withstand climate change shocks,” he said revealing that they wanted to irrigate some 8,000 hectares every year.

“We have realised that we will do less than what we had targeted,” he said.

On expansion of agriculture insurance, Rwf370 million was allocated against needed Rwf890 million.

“We wanted to increase the number of crops and livestock as well as the number of districts covered in the scheme next year, because the insurance is covering cows, rice and maize currently. But, given the limited funds, we will not achieve our ambitions as desired,” he said.

Carrying out research and extension activities to boost efficiently and sustainably the production of high quality and nutritive products also face a budget gap of Rwf7.77 billion.

MP Theogene Munyangeyo, said that the allocation to agriculture accounts for about 4.4 percent of the next national budget – estimated to Rwf2,800 billion, a share which is below the recommendation by the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

CAADP – a pan-African flagship programme to enhance agriculture production and bring about food security on the continent – recommends each of African countries to invest a minimum of 10 per cent of national budgets into agriculture, and to raise agricultural productivity by at least 6 per cent.

“All countries that developed, be it in America, and in Asia, managed it thanks to boosting investment in agriculture and education, and other sector built on that,” he said.

“Under the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) which will end in 2024, we had a target to irrigate at least 102,000 hectares. Currently, about 50,000 are irrigated. So, how will we cover the remaining 52,000 hectares by then?” he wondered proposing another discussion on how to achieve that ambition.

As a country where over 35 percent of children are stunted, he said, more efforts should be put in bridging funding gap, and ensuring enough food for improved nutrition.

MP Annonciata Mukarugwiza said that “the agriculture and livestock sector has an important contribution to the country’s economy, and the livelihoods of Rwandans, but voiced concern over low investment assigned to insurance.

“Insurance is important to farmers. However, the budget allotted to it is too small compared to issues facing the agriculture and livestock sector,” she said calling for further consideration of the issue for better results.

Another issue, she said, is insufficient investment in research especially on new crops which can help get higher yields.

However, MP Veneranda Nyirahirwa said that budget is never enough in countries all over the world, expressing that what matters is to put it to good use for urgent priorities.

“There is a need for improvement in the preparation of budget and urgent priorities. For instance, there should be a way to develop new crop varieties that can resist to diseases and climate change, and training farmers on how to grow crops and get more yield on small land,” she observed.

Overall, the agriculture sector was allocated Rwf121.6 billion in the financial year 2018/2019, which is expected to increase to Rwf129.1 billion in the financial year 2019/2020.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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