Kagame made the observations on Thursday, September 10, 2020, while participating in a youth town hall meeting which was held under the theme “Africa’s Food System of the Future.”
The session which was held virtually is part of the 10th African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) Summit which started on September 8 and is to end on September 11.
The president said that the potential of agriculture on the African continent is vast.
“We need to invest more and get more out of the investments we have already made. This includes public infrastructure and value chains, particularly for the growing urban food markets that underpin prosperity in rural areas,” said the Head of State.
“What we need from you is the corresponding focus and innovative spirit so that agriculture can serve as the basis of Africa’s economic transformation,” the President told the youth.
Statistics from the African Development Bank (AfDB) indicate that Africa had an estimated net food import bill of US $35.4 billion in 2015, with about 15 food chains accounting for most imports, including 5 staple commodities such as wheat, sugar, rice, beef, and soybeans.
The Bank said that increased food demand and changing consumption habits are leading to rapidly rising net food imports, which are expected to grow from US $35 billion in 2015 to over US $110 billion by 2025, if the situation does not change.
In response to that, President Kagame said that “in our vision, we want to transform agriculture from mostly subsistence to a modern, knowledge-based sector that ensures both food and nutrition security, and also creates value and contributes to our economy.”
“This means therefore, a stronger role for the private sector including farmers with the government acting as a market enabler, rather than dominating the market,” he said.
According to the Head of State, increased profits will come from higher yields and higher value agricultural commodities such as horticulture, poultry, piggery and fisheries, among others.
The President said that besides enabling good policy, the Government of Rwanda is working to provide the required infrastructure and to support research.
“And, you will find that this is across the whole continent; each country is focused on a number of things, but these are the common ones.”
He observed that Rwanda has partnered with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation to establish Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) which is educating a new generation of agriculture entrepreneurs in the latest sustainable farming practices.
Rwanda also facilitated the establishment of a youth platform; the Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum, which targets opportunities in the agriculture sector domestically and regionally, the President added.