Co-operatives are key to achieving Rwanda’s 2020 Vision

25 Feb 2014

The Rwandan government is committed to growing the co-operative sector across the country, as a means to achieve sustainable development. At a meeting with officials form Lesotho, Minister of Trade and Industry, François Kanimba highlighted the important contribution of co-operatives to achieving the government’s vision for 2020.

Launched in 2000 by Rwandan president Paul Kagame, Vision 2020 is a development programme designed to help the country achieve middle-income status by 2020 and to accelerate annual GDP growth to 10% over the period 2013-2018.

The programme consists of a list of goals that the government aims to achieve by the year 2020, such as good governance, an efficient state, skilled human capital, a vibrant private sector and modern agriculture.

“The Co-operative Movement in Rwanda contributes now to the economic wellbeing of more than two million members, most of them living in rural areas,” Mr Kanimba said.

To increase farmer smallholder productivity, particularly in rural areas, the government sought to strengthen farmer co-operatives, which according to a 2013 country programme document by UNICEF, significantly increased production of staple food and export crops. With support from the United Nations, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources helped farmers develop new skills and reduce post-harvest losses. This resulted in higher incomes for 25,000 farm families.

Maliehe Maliehe, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Co-operative and Marketing of Lesotho has welcomed the Rwandan government’s decision to strengthen the Co-operative Movement as a means to eradicate poverty.

He said: “We learnt from our research that the government of Rwanda is busy working on strengthening Co-operative Movement and we are here to learn how co-operatives are run and administered”.

The delegation of Lesotho will be visiting agricultural co-operatives in the Northern province of Rwanda, sharing experience of legislation, access to finance and value chain. Along with representatives of the Rwandan government, they discussed about areas of collaboration such as co-operative training, supervision and regulation.

Already over 5,000 co-operatives are contributing to the wellbeing of more than two million people in Rwanda, not only in agriculture, but also in other sectors such as transport or commodity transformation, with farmers buying trucks and milling machines.

The important contribution of co-operatives to Rwanda’s agriculture has been recognised by two non-governmental organisations that named a Rwandan agricultural co-operatives as the African Farmer Organization of 2013. Impabaruta, a co-operative of smallholder farmers in Kamonyi District, beat over 60 contestants to take the prize for Africa’s top farmer organisation.

The award was an initiative of African Investment Climate Research (AFRICRES) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Impabaruta was recognised for its good governance as well as its exceptional involvement of women and youth in agriculture.

Photo: Minister of Trade and Industry, François Kanimba, meeting with officials from Lesotho.

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