Rome – Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Wednesday described his country as a success story for boosting the role played by smallholder farmers in producing more food and overcoming environmental constraints.
At a United Nations meeting in Rome, Kagame challenged other African nations to do more to help the growth of their agricultural sector.
‘If Rwanda has managed to gain these modest results and in difficult conditions, how much more can be achieved in less-fragile conditions and with increased investment in opportunities that exist in many parts of Africa?’ he asked.
Kagame was speaking on the opening day of a conference hosted by the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
During the two-day event, representatives from IFAD’s 167 member states will focus on ways that smallholder farmers – particularly in developing countries – could help lead the way in adopting ‘climate smart’ agriculture, the organization said.
On Thursday, US tech billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates is to address the gathering.
In the last five years, Rwanda had witnessed ‘a significant increase in output from smallholder farms (that) has had a noticeable impact on the lives of our citizens,’ Kagame said.
Agricultural gross domestic product has grown at an average of 8 per cent, ensuringfood security and higher incomes for farmers, he said.
This has resulted in more than 1 million Rwandans moving above the poverty line since 2007, he added.
Kagame noted the work done to try to mitigate Rwanda’s challenges of high population growth and density, and factors such as steep hills, heavy rainfall and frequent tilling of the same, often-fragmented, land.
He said Rwanda was investing in a number of measures to preserve the ecosystem: Hillside terracing to reduce erosion and conserve moisture; rehabilitation of degraded forests; and the reclamation of marshlands both for agriculture as well as protection of wetlands.