Dr. Agnes Kalibata: We will be focusing on these key issues:
Investing in agriculture on the continent to drive both food security and incomes for farmers
The role and place of agriculture as the backbone to economic transformation
Using public-private partnerships to unlock Africa’s agricultural potential
Africa has the largest unexploited land and water resources in the world. How do we use this to position Africa to feed itself but also to be the world’s next food basket?
The need for investment in postharvest infrastructure to facilitate agricultural trade.
Investment in agro-processing and value addition to ensure that producing countries receive a fair share of revenues from value added products
Investment in agro-inputs such as seed, fertilizers, packaging materials, etc.
Transformation of agriculture sector through private investment strategically complemented by investment enabling infrastructure.
Need for increasing agriculture financing and insurance.
EMRC: Why should people attend this international forum being held in your country?
AK: Rwanda is a country that has beaten the odds in very many ways:
Need for increasing agriculture financing and insurance. In the 1990s when other countries were figuring out how to meet their MDGs, Rwanda went into total destruction and was considered by many for most of that decade to be headed for a failed state status. Rwanda has not only beaten this, it is on track to meet all the MDGs by 2015.
The economic recovery which started around 2005 has been growing at 8% per annum on average. Rwanda has moved from a basket case to food security; since 2007 Rwanda’s food production has been on a stable increase. Export earnings have also grown very steadily. The government has invested in rural transformation to the extent that poverty dropped by 12% and 1 million people moved out of poverty between 2008 – 2012 alone.
Investment opportunities are on the rise and government has worked very hard on its doing business indicators to make it possible for investments to happen. Rwanda has topped the doing business chart for the last 3 – 4 years.
Lastly, Rwanda has a governance system that priorities rule of law and fight against corruption. Rwanda has designed policies to fast-track implementation of government programs. Different arms of government have inbuilt implementation and accountability processes that are traceable and accountable to government and to the population.
Rwanda has designed gender-friendly policies that have seen the country lead in gender empowerment and engagement at a global level. We will share with all guests the policies and strategies that have enabled Rwanda to recover from the 1994 abyss to registering above 8%
Rwanda is an extremely secure country; it will offer both investors and policy leaders from the continent a suitable environment to do business.
Participants will have the opportunity to assess potential agricultural investments in Rwanda in which they can expand their business portfolios.
Participants will also be exposed to investment opportunities in other sectors in Rwanda.
The forum will provide a platform to foster South-South trade cooperation as well as North-South investments in the agri-food sector.
EMRC: Why do you think the agri-food sector is an important sector for economic and development growth in Rwanda and for the whole of Africa?
Providing a market outlet for farmers: This provides the basis of sustainability of the whole agricultural sector. Farmers are able to generate incomes, be part of an economy, invest in inputs and provide inputs to industries. This pulls a huge part of the population into an active economic sector
Reducing post harvest losses: losses after harvest still range between 25-50% in most parts of Africa- this food can be saved through a well structured Agri-food sector.
The Agri-food sector has the potential to employ a larger percentage of the population, not only in production, but also processing, value addition, and trading due to the different needs in the respective value chains.
Africa’s import bill is still dominated by processed foods; yet it is also true that the continent produces a lot of food that goes to waste. The Agri-food sector would create an opportunity for Africa to tap into its own market and to reduce unnecessary import bills.
EMRC: What are your goals/outcomes for the AgriBusiness Forum 2013?
To highlight the importance and role of investing in agricultural transformation and agricultural value chains to unlock the economic potential of the agriculture sector and the millions of people who depend on it for their livelihood.
To promote Rwanda, EAC and Africa’s potential in the agro-food sectors
To provide an opportunity for constructive discussions between the public and private sectors on investing in agribusiness on the African continent
To provide an opportunity for business discussions that will lead to actual investment- Attract investments into Rwanda’s agricultural sector
Promote opportunities for regional trade