Rwanda, European Union ink US$67m deal for climate-smart, inclusive agriculture

RWANDA – The government of Rwanda and the European Union have signed a financing agreement worth €69 million (US$67.2m) to support climate-smart and inclusive agriculture in the country.

The three-year financing agreement will be implemented in two forms i.e., the budget support-sector reform contract worth €52 million (US$50.6m).

This will target progress achieved on farmers’ incomes and better services delivery to farmers at local level including land husbandry and climate-smart agricultural practices with a focus on agroforestry and landscape restoration.

The second focus will be a €10 million (US$9.7m) complementary support by Team Europe aimed to support inclusive and sustainable high-value chains (horticulture and aquaculture) via a contribution agreement with the Belgian Development Agency-Enabel.

Under this component there is also technical assistance worth €7 million (US$6.8m) set to support the Ministry of Agriculture and animal resources, Ministry of Environment and related agencies in the policy design, monitoring and implementation.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana noted, “The financial support is a timely contribution to our National Strategy for Transformation for modernization and strengthening the productivity of agriculture and livestock while promoting sustainable management of the environment and natural resources to transition Rwanda towards a Green Economy.”

The project is expected to support Rwanda’s Nationally Determined Contributions objective on climate adaptation by fostering the agricultural transition to socially and environmentally inclusive food systems and ensuring the country’s environmental and climate sustainability.

Belen Calvo Uyarra, EU designate Ambassador to Rwanda, said, based on the longstanding partnership between the European Union and Rwanda, “We are proud to be one of the key partners in the country’s path to sustainable development.”

“With this strategy, we renew the EU’s commitment to support pro-poor, sustainable, and inclusive economic growth, by focusing on a green deal for agricultural transformation and achieving Rwanda’s climate adaptation goals.”

Zimbabwe launches US$20m irrigation fund

Meanwhile in Zimbabwe, the government launched a US$20m Smallholder Irrigation Infrastructure Development Fund meant to boost rural incomes and ensure food self-sufficiency.

The fund, which is expected to create at least 20,000 jobs, will benefit 18 smallholder irrigation projects, reports The Herald.

According to the newspaper, the facility will be funded by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development using part of the country’s allocation of 958 million U.S. dollars from the International Monetary Fund.

To make the project official, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube and Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development Anxious Masuka signed a memorandum of understanding, under which the finance ministry would finance the program while the agriculture ministry would be the implementing partner.

Ncube said the main objective of the facility was to ensure food and nutrition self-sufficiency for vulnerable smallholder farmers.

The 18 irrigation schemes cover about 2,700 hectares, benefiting about 4,500 households in the country’s eight rural provinces.

“The initiative will go a long way in enhancing climate proofing to the vulnerable, ensuring food and nutrition security,” Ncube said. “The scheme intends to provide employment directly to more than 20,000 people.”

In his response, Masuka said the initiative would help develop a sector that had been neglected for a long time.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union chief executive Paul Zakariya echoed the Ministers sentiments highlighting that the project would help address the long-term effects of climate change.

“This is a welcome development because our seasons are getting drier and drier, so the most effective way of addressing water challenges and ensuring productivity is to harness water and develop irrigation schemes,” he said.

The country has about 450 smallholder irrigation schemes covering at least 26,000 hectares, but many of them are not operating to capacity because of operational problems.

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