The support will be channeled through Japan’s Sector Policy Loan for Nutrition Improvement through Agricultural Transformation.
The agreement has been signed by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN), Dr. Uzzile Ndagijimana, Mr. Takayuki Miyashita, Ambassador of Japan to Rwanda and Mr. Shin Maruo, the Chief Representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Rwanda office.
Since 2012, Rwanda has seen a decline of stunting among children of age between 6 months and 5 years, however, the decline is still short of Rwanda’s target to reduce stunting below 19% by Rwanda fiscal year 2023/2024.
Despite substantial growth in agricultural production over the past 10 years, food security and nutrition remain concerns, especially when looking at the vulnerability to shocks at the household level.
The Food Consumption Score is 76% by 2018, but a large share of the population remains dependent on rain-fed agriculture and home-consumption.
Primarily, agriculture plays the role of availing food by ensuring that production meets the diverse dietary needs of the population.
Despite the growth in production over the past 10 years, staple food production remains below the targeted demand for domestic consumption and is substituted by importation.
The program will be executed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), the National Early Childhood Development Program (NECDP), the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) and the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) under the supervision of MINECOFIN.
The program will focus mainly on two components of Food Security and Multi-Sectoral Coordination.
In regards to agriculture transformation-related activities, the program will help MINAGRI to set up nutrition-sensitive agriculture guidelines, strengthen the availability of protein-rich food through the small livestock distribution program under RAB.
Additionally, it will leverage on the achievement of Smallholder Market-oriented Agriculture Project (SMAP), a JICA Technical Cooperation Project to build the capacity of targeted beneficiaries in terms of nutrition aspects.
At a more decentralized level, the program will fill a food nutrient gap in each district and suitable nutritious crops will be identified and promoted for production.
Other components include making crop calendar for irrigation schemes, nutrition public awareness campaigns.
Minister Ndagijimana said that channeling the funds through Rwanda’s budget reflects how Japan maintains trust in Rwanda’s good governance and efficient use of funds.
Ambassador Miyashita explained that Japan channeled the funds through the budget because of the trust bestowed upon Rwanda’s systems towards the implementation of targeted activities in addition to proper management of funds.
Since malnutrition is a multi-sectoral issue that involves various stakeholders, the program will support the coordination at the national level with the NECDP to the grass root level with the community health workers and farmer promoters’ coordination.
The program is scheduled to run from 2019 to 2021, with the expectation to have a big impact in eradicating the undernutrition and fighting against the stunting.