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Rwanda: Agriculture to head discussion list at ATF Kigali event Kigali, Rwanda


At the same time as Africa’s top economists, policymakers, business leaders, and development practitioners gather in Kigali in March for the initial African Transformation Forum (ATF) one of the major discussion topics will be how to use agriculture as a base for the continent’s economic transformation.

The ATF, which takes place in Kigali, Rwanda on March 14-15 is organized by the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) and the Government of Rwanda.

“Historically, nations that have managed to pull out of poverty are those that have successfully increased agricultural surplus and used that as a basis for diversifying their economies away from agriculture-based activities,” writes Francis Mulangu in the February issue of African Business magazine.

Mulangu, an agricultural economist at ACET, writes: “A surplus-generating agricultural sector can provide cheap food, ensuring adequate nutrition for the people, inclunding its workforce, and as well increase the all of disposable gain left to individuals and families next the food bills have been paid.

This generates request for other goods and services, creating direct and indirect jobs”. Surplus production is as well used to provide raw materials for industry, setting off a positive chain reaction inclunding production, marketing, distribution and all the other price additions involved, he says. Agricultural transformation starts by improving productivity.

Higher productivity implies that households will have enough food for their own consumption and surpluses to sell to the market to acquire cash to diversify their diets and satisfy their non-food needs.

But, agricultural productivity in Africa is about one third that of comparable Asian smallholder farmers. Why is this so? What can stakeholders do to boost productivity? Which crops hold the majority promise? Where are the success stories and how can they be duplicated?

How can agriculture be used to create jobs? MD Ramesh from Olam, Alemayehu Konde Koira of the MasterCard Foundation, and Kenneth Quartey of Sydal Farms (Ghana) will be part of a panel of expert exploring and discussing these critical issues.

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