The private sector has been urged to invest more in agriculture to propel the sector forward and help in attainment of the country’s second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II) targets.
Tony Nsanganira, the Minister of State for Agriculture, said the private sector could invest in high-value traditional and emerging export crops, like vegetables, and adding value to local products to boost their competitiveness and create jobs.
Nsanganira made the remarks yesterday during a breakfast meeting organised by the Private Sector Federation’s (PSF) Golden Circle in Kigali.
The brainstorming session aimed at finding ways through which the private sector players could enhance the agriculture value chain by investing in the sector and optimising resource usage to reduce operational costs.
Nsanganira noted that by investing in the sector, private sector players would ease the burden on the government, and also help in negotiating better prices.
“Modernisation of agriculture is a central component in the country’s development targets under EDPRS II.
Therefore, more private sector investments will play a key role in ensuring that the objectives of the development agenda are realised, including creation of jobs for youth and boosting household incomes,” he said.
He disclosed that government is currently carrying out strategic interventions in the sector, saying it has already invested in some factories that are expected to be running efficiently next year.
“However, there is land, which we believe would be better utilised by the private sector, a situation that would allow us to spend less on maintenance,” he explained.
He urged the business leaders to form partnerships, arguing that they can pool skills and resources to improve the agricultural value chain.
“If two or more firms agreed to jointly undertake one big project, this would lead to major transformation in the sector, beyond EDPRS II objectives,” Nsanganira said.
He cited transformational projects in poultry and dairy farming, noting the private sector could help improve the various milk collection centres across the country, as well as engage in vegetable farming to supply hotels and export market. Other opportunities include grains and beef production, he added.
Benjamin Gasamagera, the PSF chairman, said there was need to fast-track some of the projects.
“If we convene every three months and identify projects that investors and the agriculture ministry’s technical team can work on together, we would get better results,” he said.
David Bensusan, the chief executive of Minerals Supply Africa, a local mining company, pointed out that there is land around mining sites that could be used for farming, especially for grains like maize and sorghum.
“The mining industry has problems accessing finance from banks, but if we had joint ventures with agricultural firms, we could probably get the banks to lend us money,” he argued.
“Such an arrangement has huge potential to increase crop production, and create employment.”