The Prime Minister of Rwanda Dr. Édouard Ngirente has asked the East African Community (EAC) to shift to smart agriculture to alleviate food insecurity in the region.
Ngirente said that if the region is to feed its 283million population three conditions must be met.
“Having enough food means availability of the food, affordability and access. Those are the three things you need to take care of in our community (EAC),” Ngirente said.
Ngirente made the remarks on November 23, 2023 at the Heads of State session EAC high level forum on climate change and food security where he shared Rwanda’s story on attracting investment in climate smart agriculture and sustainable green growth.
The forum held in Arusha, Tanzania as a side event ahead of the 23rd Ordinary EAC Head of State Ordinary Summit and was attended by the EAC Heads of State, the EAC 1st deputy Prime Minister of Uganda, former PM of Ethiopia and ministers of environment and the diplomatic corps among other regional dignitaries.
The second aspect, Ngirente said the region needs to be strategic in addressing climate related disasters especially through collaboration and knowledge transfer considering the fact that each country has specialized knowledge and experiences.
Ngirente said that what Tanzania has achieved can also be achieved in Rwanda and what Rwanda has achieved can be achieved in Kenya or Burundi but there is a need to have a knowledge sharing model developed.
“So we need to make sure that there is that knowledge transfer among ourselves, within the community and that is something very challenging for us. So we need to challenge ourselves as we are here and work with our experts,” Ngirente said.
The PM said that if this is done, it will result in regional integration and complementarity and exporting this collective knowledge to other regions.
On Rwanda’s method of attracting investment in agriculture which is considered a risk sector, the PM explained that the secret is about de-risking the sector and making sure investors are attracted.
For instance, in Rwanda, the government has played its part to put in place viable infrastructure (feeder roads), availing financing in agriculture which has reached 10% as required by the Malabo convention on agriculture financing with loan interest rates lower than two digits, and building post-harvest facilities to reduce the current 40% post-harvest loss.
On policies, Rwanda has put out a 40% agriculture insurance scheme to cover risk on crops and livestock, subsidized small scale irrigation, and local improved seed quality production to reduce seed imports and duty free import on all agriculture inputs and tax exemption on agriculture equipment.
In investment policy, Rwanda has set a 50% reduction in corporate income tax, seven-year tax relief for export related investments and mobilizing funds in smart agriculture and green growth fund – ‘Ireme’ (worth $300m) among other incentives.
Rwanda’s Minister of State in Charge of Regional Cooperation, James Kabarebe, said that the forum needs to reflect and share best practices with a focus on three critical issues: the energy used for cooking, post-harvest handling and building climate resilient settlements to reduce climate related disasters.
Tanzanian president, Samia Suluhu Hassan said that her call is on having investments in renewable energy but also for the region to have its fair share in carbon credits instead of being influenced or manipulated in the process of global climate resilience
13-year-old Sharon Ringo, the EAC Trade and Tourism Ambassador, asked the leaders to put their heads and minds together to think of ways of solving current challenges, especially hunger by exploring pathways and actions needed to accelerate the continent towards food security.
“A child dying of hunger in Somalia, Congo, Haiti, India and other parts of the world is a denial of responsibility of parents and guardians around the world,” Ringo said.
Ringo told the summit to think and plan together towards achieving productive, inclusive, transformative and sustainable food systems in Africa and for the benefit of the world and future generations.
As a bloc, the EAC Heads of State agreed on a climate action position that includes Investing in climate resilient agriculture, resolute commitment to renewable energy, regional cooperation on water management that will be presented at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) slated 30 November until 12 December in Dubai, UAE.