The Rwanda Civil society forum has called on the government to plan for a more gender sensistive budget that will enable women to access finance and capacity building to enable them become productive in the agricultural sector.
The call was made by members of the civil society forum during the Rwanda civil society public dialogue on the National Budget 2014/15 which is yet to be passed by parliament
Sulah Nuwamanya, the Head of Head of Partnership Development and Communications at Actionaid Rwanda, said that the aim of the dialogue is to stimulate a debate for the stakeholders to begin understanding the budget and how it is leaning towards supporting women.
“Supporting women small holder farmers is paramount in the fight against poverty. The government has done a good job in policy making, but what we are saying is that we want to have a budget that implements these policies as a way of empowering women in agriculture” he said.
Women in Rwanda make the biggest percentage of defendants on agricultural sector, with 80 percent of the agricultural sector population, of which agriculture accounts for 90 percent of the economic activities of Rwanda’s population.
Specific demands according to the civil society sector research findings indicated that the biggest challenge is lack of finance and lack of information of the sources of loans and skills to improve their productivity.
Discussions from experts indicated that women involvement in agriculture is not significant while agriculture boost remains important for both economic growth and poverty reduction. They said that women lack access to credit and loans, and rights over land- which affects their productivity in the sector.
However, Ephraim Turahirwa, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bank Populaire, said that issue is not only lack of money but there is need to have women trained with skills that can enable them to come up with better projects so that banks can finance their projects.
The dialogue, held at Lemigo hotel, on June 13, 2014 was sponsored by ActionAid and Nation Media Group, and streamed live on air and social media. The dialogue comes a few days after the Minister of Finance; Ambassador Claver Gatete read the draft budget to both chambers of parliament on June 12.
Agriculture is projected to grow 5 percent in 2014, up from 3 percent in 2013. Government plans to allocate Rwf17 billion to major projects in the agriculture sector such as the Project for Rural Income through Exports (PRICE), Tea Expansion Project, Gako Beef farm, KWAMP – Kirehe Watershed Management Project, Priority Crops Intensification (Including Fertilizer Imports), Immediate Action Irrigation Project (GFI) and Post-Harvest and Agribusiness Support Project (PASP) among others.
Apparently, the Ministry of Agriculture doesn’t have a Gender Budget Statement in its 2014/15 budget proposal, while other ministries have taken into consideration this aspect, which is mainly aimed at engaging women in development.
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