Head of UN rural development arm visits Rwanda

18 July 2010

The head of the United Nations rural development arm is in Rwanda to strengthen collaboration with the central African country in the field of agriculture, which provides employment to more than 80 per cent of the population.

Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), is expected to confer with President Paul Kagame and meet with top Government officials from the finance, agriculture and trade ministries during the three-day visit, the agency said in a statement.

The IFAD delegation will also meet with rural women and men participating in projects funded by the agency, which works with the rural poor to enable them to grow and sell more food, as well as increase their incomes.

Agriculture is the backbone of Rwanda's economy, contributing an average of about 36 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) between 2001 and 2008. The sector is, however, fragile. Rough terrain, soil erosion and climatic hazards combine with geography and the lack of modern technology to create serious constraints to agricultural development.

On Monday, Mr. Nwanze will visit Bugesera district in eastern Rwanda to inaugurate the local community innovation centre and meet with local officials, project participants in the field, and a cooperative of silkworm farmers in Ntarama. The centre will be a platform for delivering services and support to farmers, including regular training on business development, writing business plans, and cooperative development and management.

IFAD is supporting the Government of Rwanda in its efforts to gradually shift from subsistence agriculture to market-oriented farming.

Since 1981, IFAD has financed 13 rural development programmes and projects in Rwanda – amounting to nearly $150 million – that have benefited more than 373,200 households. The financing provided by IFAD consists of loans with highly concessional terms and, since 2008, grant funding.

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