The government and its development partners should make clear investments that ensure increased production for rural women like access soft loan, affordable agriculture inputs, improved quality rural extension service, adoption of measures to make extension workers are accountable to women farmers and creation of rural women farmers’ guarantee fund.
Women in Rwanda like those in several developing countries produce 60-80% of the, yet they face overwhelming discrimination in access to credit, land, inputs, education and other key resources.
“Empowering rural women farmers to produce more food for local markets is the bedrock of global food security. Small farmers, the majority of whom are women, are responsible for over 80 per cent of the food grown in Africa and produce about half the world’s food supplies,” says ActionAid Rwanda Country Director Josephine Uwamariya, adding that with enough investment, women are determined, resourceful and incredibly hard-working. “Given a chance, they could literally grow their way out of poverty and hunger.”
However, perverse policies mean that only a tiny fraction of their potential is being utilized. Indeed, about three-quarters of the hungry people in the world are small farmers and the rural landless – a sad indicator of what a mess agriculture is in.
Rwanda has made remarkable strides forward in development since the tragedy of the 1994 genocide. The country is experiencing rapid economic growth (7.1% in FY 2010/2011), much of which is being driven by investments in the agricultural sector, which accounts for approximately 40% of GDP and 80% of employment. Despite these gains, hunger and poverty remain widespread, with nearly half of the agricultural households reporting problems of food self-sufficiency.
“Economic opportunities for women are very limited, particularly in rural areas. High levels of maternal and child malnutrition still exist in much of the country,” adds Uwamariya who is joining women farmers in Murundi sector of Karongi district in the celebrations to mark the International Rural Women and World Food Day. As part of its development agenda for rural women farmers, Actionaid will today unveil support to women smallholder cooperatives with improved seeds and cows and launch of tree planting project.
The government’s pro-poor policies that empower smallholder farmers like ‘one cow per family’, farmers’ easy access to extension services and social protection schemes under Vision 2020 ‘Umurenge’ are laudable and shared lessons for learning,” adds Uwamariya. She however calls on the Rwandan government to put in place strong legal framework that provides for constitutional and legislative guarantees of right to food if Rwanda is to consolidate her achievements in the fight against hunger.
ActionAid, kicked-off on Thursday a week-long HungerFREE campaign in Rwanda, calling on the government and development partners to increase financial support toward rural women farmers as a long-term strategic solution against hunger.
The campaign centers on community awareness and mobilization of women and youth, as well as public dialogue at the national level on food security and training of women in credit and savings within the framework of the International Rural Women and World Food Day.
The campaign ends on October 19th with launch of the HungerFREE scorecard report and a panel of experts round table debate on food security and hunger in Rwanda.
For more information and interviews, please contact
Josephine Uwamariya-ActionAid [Rwanda], Email: Josephine.Uwamariya@actionaid.org
-Sulah Nuwamanya, Email: Sulah.Nuwamanya@actionaid.org
Edited and submitted by: Jennifer Fierberg, MSW