By The Inspirer staff writter
The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI)’s determined efforts to involve youth in agricultural transformation were awarded with this year’s Edouard Saouma Award, a global prize instituted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), according to a statement issued by the Ministry on Tuesday, May 28, 2019.
The Award consists of an inscribed medal, a scroll describing the winner’s achievements and a cash prize of USD 25,000. Winners are presented with the award by the Director-General at a special ceremony held during the year of the FAO Conference.
Indeed, the involvement of young people in farming came when Rwanda’s agriculture and livestock sector was dominated by an ageing farming population whose average age is 55 years, which posed a threat to the future of the sector in Rwanda, according to MINAGRI and agricultural experts.
The situation resulted in slow innovation, creativity and technology adaptation as well as skills transfer among the agricultural practitioners because old people are not quick to learn new ways of doing things.
MINAGRI has been selected as joint winner of the award, with the Ministry of National Food Security and Research in Pakistan for Strengthening youth roles and access in the Agricultural sector in Rwanda.
The honor will be presented to Rwanda during the 41st FAO Conference on Wednesday 26 June to be held in Rome, Italy.
The award winning project, “Strengthening youth roles and access in the Agricultural sector in Rwanda” funded by the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) has supported the establishment of Rwanda Youth Involvement in Agribusiness (RYAF), a platform that brings together different youth organizations, individual youth farmers and entrepreneurs in Agriculture Sector working in one or many of the agriculture value chains.
To date, Rwandan youth involved in Agriculture who are registered under RYAF counts to 12,000+ with more than 1,300 businesses. These youth are categorised in five clusters based on what they do, including Agro-processing, Livestock production, Crop production, Inputs and Agro-services, and ICT4Agriculture.
Ambitious target to generate $50 million from youth-led agricultural exports by 2021
RYAF targets to generate about $56 million from agricultural and livestock exports by youth in agribusiness by 2021.
To achieve this, the young agripreneurs’ forum listed some of the activities that are expected to be carried out.
In livestock cluster, it wants to establish an automated animal production operations management software, and prioritising value chains development: poultry, piggery, beekeeping, rabbit farming and dairy farming, including incubation centers.
For crop production cluster, it seeks intensified investment in spices for export, such as African bird eye chili, hybrid chili, hot pepper habanero, mushroom value chain.
It also advocates for crop farming incubation center per province, intensified investment in fruit trees like avocadoes, mangoes, papaya, citrus, tamarillo (tree tomatoes), passion fruits (Gilboa seeds), and intensified investment in vegetables: watermelons, French beans, among others.
About Edouard Saouma Award
The Edouard Saouma Award is presented to a national or regional institution that has implemented with particular efficiency a project funded by FAO’s Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP), according to FAO.
The TCP is an established and highly valued component of FAO action in the field, allowing the rapid mobilization of resources to respond to emergency situations and to meet unforeseen short-term technical assistance needs, which could not be covered by other sources of support.
Established in 1993, this biennial award pays tribute to former FAO Director-General (1976-1993), Edouard Saouma for his conception and implementation of the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP).
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