The significant chop of budget allocated to Agriculture Ministry will not affect its operations in this financial year, officials in the ministry have said.
Claver Gatete, the Finance Minister told lawmakers, that the reduction is not due to scarcity of resources, ‘but some key projects under the ministry that have phased out’.
According to the 2017/2018 financial year budget framework paper presented to parliament last week, money allocated to Ministry of Agriculture was cut by 30% of the total budget worth $120m.
According to Minister Gatete, some projects in the Agriculture Ministry have been phased out including; Rural Sector Support Project (RSSP) and Water harvesting and Hillside irrigation (LWH) project. Other projects phased out include; the Kirehe community-based Watershed management Project (KWAMP).
He said money previously used to finance these projects will be channeled elsewhere in government priority areas.
A part from closing projects, Geraldine Mukeshimana, Minister of Agriculture said some other funds will go straight to implementing organs instead of passing through the ministry.
“There is a budget that has been channeled through the ministry yet it is meant for other implementers. We want this money to go directly to institutions it is meant for,” Minister Mukeshimana told KT Press.
Rwanda’s agriculture sector employs more than 85% of the country’s 12 million population. The sector contributes 35% to the country’s $8.3 billion Growth Domestic Product.
According to the head of parliamentary committee on economy, MP Constance Mukayuhi Rwaka, Rwanda’s economy will grow at a rate of 7% and 12% in the next three years, while GDP will grow by 6.2% this year.
Agriculture is among the sectors that have pushed the country’s economic growth.
For instance, through government funding, land husbandry activities on 12,940 Ha and irrigation on 1,868 ha on the hillsides of the country have been cleared for farmers to practice modern farming techniques under Land Husbandry, Water harvesting and Hillside irrigation (LWH) project.
Started in 2009, the project has been piloting different techniques on three ecological zones in the sites of Karongi district in Western Province, Nyanza in Southern Province and Gatsibo in Eastern Province.
After successful implementation of the program, the project scaled up its intervention to 3 mores sites of Rwamagana and and Kayonza in Eastern Province with recent intervention in Gicumbi and Rulindo Districts in Northern Province.
More than 22,689 households have benefited from the hillside irrigation with more than 100,000 direct beneficiaries from different sites. According to implementers of the project, close to 8,000 ha of land has been treated with comprehensive land husbandry technologies across sites, and 6,632,817 trees planted for terraces embankment protection.
As a result, yields of different crops have tripled and in some areas like Karongi district where they increased 5 times after the land treatment. More than 600, 000 hectares of Rwanda’s arable land need irrigation.
The three key projects that closed are likely to leave a gap in these areas of interventions.
However, a source at Ministry of Agriculture told KT Press on condition of anonymity, that new initiatives will soon take over the kind of work RSSP and other projects were implementing.