By: Christophe Hitayezu
FAO has initiated a €5 million project within which researchers in Rwanda will benefit €500 thousand for next three years to carry out research that brings innovative solutions in agriculture. Named Development Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture (DeSIRA), the project has been welcomed by the Government of Rwanda as a support to the implementation of the 4th Strategic Plan for Agriculture Transformation (PSTA4).
As financial support providers, the representative of European Union at the project launch on 18th February 2020, said investing in research and innovation is a critical factor for development. stressing that “To reach a good research impact, you need to have enough capacity for research”.
The Director General in charge of Livestock in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr. Theogene Rutagwenda, said for a better implementation of PSTA4, the sector needs innovative practices. “We have to try different ways of doing things. We have to innovate to bring change in agriculture and livestock sectors,” he said. He added farmers need practical innovations to increase crop and animal productivity.
The Deputy Representative of FAO in Rwanda, Dr. Otto Vianney Muhinda, said DeSIRA will bring research based technologies to solve current problems in agriculture.
“Agriculture is currently facing problems linked to emerging pests and diseases, climate change, among others. Therefore, we need to introduce technology to overcome all these problems,” he said.
The project will be implemented through research institutions in nine countries: Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Eritrea, Colombia, Lao PDR, Malawi, Rwanda, Pakistan and Senegal.
In Rwanda, Agriculture remains the backbone of the economy. Agriculture being the economic mainstay of the majority of households, It is also a significant contributor to the Rwanda’s economy. The agriculture sector accounts for approximately 33% of the GDP, employs 69.2% of the Rwandan labor force, has generated 60% of the foreign exchange, provides 75% of raw materials for industry, and provided about 45% of total Government revenue (BNR, 2015).