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AU Summit: Participants call for improved access to agriculture-related loans
Published on 16-07-2016 - at 10:45' by Théophile Niyitegeka

Various leaders attending the 27th African Union Summit in Kigali have observed that women face a number of hurdles in accessing loans while some African women are deprived of rights to own land.

It has been revealed today in a meeting of heads of states on ‘Empowering Women in Agriculture’ (EWA) where the president of Senegal, Macky Sal stressed the need for everyone to understand the relevance of agriculture in Africa’s development as an occupation for the majority of Africans. He asked the implementation of policies to empower agriculture practitioners.

EWA is a program aimed at prioritizing African women in practicing agriculture as a sustainable source of income and food sufficiency.

President Sall commended partners of programs aimed at empowering women in Agriculture like the African Development Bank for having consented to invest USD 3 billion.

“We already know that banks can’t fill the gap if no further interventions are obtained since interest rates women are required to pay by banks are very prohibitive. It is a struggle am experiencing in Senegal and it is necessary to reduce such interest rates below 3% in agriculture sector,” he said.

The president of African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said that women face shortage of land in some countries while statistics indicate that women repay bank loans better compared to men.

“We have between 4 and five million women owning trading institutions in Africa but only 16% of them can access long term loans.These women earn between USD 21 and 26 million annually and 97% of them service bank loans,” he said.

The Minister of Agriculture and Animal Ressources, Geraldine Mukeshimana who represented president Paul Kagame in the meeting said that Rwanda faces no land shortage but the problem of bank loans lingers.

She explained that Rwanda’s women participate in agriculture sectors whether in sensitizing fertilizers application, agricultural techniques and decision making adding that gender equality is respected in programs rooted on Vision 2020 and EDPRS 2.

Commenting on women’s access to land, she said; “This is not a matter in Rwanda; land belongs to owners including women. However the problem is difficulties in accessing loan. Agriculture related loans are still low especially for women compared to loans offered in other activities,”she said.

President Johnson Sirleaf requested all countries to support the program of EWA to reach its targets of realizing women progress among other programs reserved for women in agriculture.

The first round of EWA will start from 2017 to 2019 with the budget of $18, 665,550 with a long term plan of EWA extended from 2017to 2026.EWA was launched by the AU Summit in Ethiopia in 2012.

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The president of Senegal ,Macky Sall

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