By Michel Nkurunziza
Following the release of the 2018-2019 Budget Framework Paper (BFP), Rwandan Civil Society has called on the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to consider increasing allocations to the agriculture sector.
This, they say, will enable the handling of critical issues within the sector which have held back the sector for decades.
Highlighting the Civil Society Organisations position on the budget framework, Jean Leonard Sekanyange said that their observation is that the agricultural sector requires increased allocations.
"In our analysis, we have realised that a big section of the budget is still spent on importing expertise to develop agriculture sector. However, we have requested that the budget is increased to develop and train local experts to reduce the importing cost," he said.
He said that budget allocated to districts ought to be higher considering that their revenues for self-reliance are relatively low.
"There is need for clear interventions in how to achieve agriculture mechanisation, increasing access to financing and loans, investing in capacity to do soil analysis and audits to improve proper land use and productivity," their paper reads in part.
The critical sub-sectors in need for the increased allocations, according to Civil Society Organisations, include; rainwater harvesting to cope with drought, maintaining valley dams and irrigation tools, modern farming, and deal with agricultural land threatened by housing.
The analysis by the organisations shows that there is no strategic intervention aimed at maintenance of valley dams and irrigation tools.
"There should also be transformation of milk collections hubs to act as one stop centers for farmers to acquire services such as animal vaccines, animal drugs, fertilisers and others," Sekanyange said.
The budget framework shows that the budget allocated to agriculture in 2018-2019 is about Rwf125 billion, which the organisations argue is still little.
"There has been improvement but as the budget is still being discussed, we ought to see what to increase and unnecessary things to remove," he said.
James Butare , the head of programmes at Action Aid Rwanda, said that agriculture budget allocation is still low compared to the Maputo declaration which calls for at least 10 per cent of the budget to be allocated to the sector.
"We are still calling for an increase in the allocation as a large part of our population largely depends on agriculture," he said
Budget for agriculture increased from Rwf80 billion in 2011-2012 up to over Rwf118 billion in 2017-2018, Prime Minister Dr. Edouard Ngirente recently told the parliament in April.
According to the recently released budget framework paper, the Government plans to spend over Rwf2.4 trillion in the upcoming financial year (2018/19), which starts in July, representing a 16 per cent increase from the current 2017/18 budget (over Rwf2.1 trillon).
The next fiscal's budget will be domestically financed to the tune of 84 per cent, which takes the country a step closer to fully financing its own budget with development expenditure estimated to take Rwf897.1 billion while Rwf1.3 trillion will go towards recurrent expenditure.