Ambassador Erica J. Barks-Ruggles speech at the
Agriculture Land Information System Launch
October 11, 2016, 1:30-3:10 PM
Hotel des Milles Collines, Kigali, Rwanda
- Honorable Minister of State in Charge of Agriculture, Fulgence Nsengiyumva,
- CEO of Rwanda Agriculture Board, Bill Kayonga,
- CEO of Private Sector Federation, Mr. Stephen Ruzibiza,
- Acting Head of Investment Promotion for the Rwanda Development Board, Mr. Innocent Bajiji,
- Deputy Director General/Lands and Mapping, of the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority, Ms Grace Nishimwe,
- Partners from the Private Sector Driven Agricultural Growth project and Chief of Party, Ms Melanie Bittle,
- Distinguished guests,
It is a great pleasure to be here today for the launch of the Agriculture Land Information System, a system that will positively transform the way the Ministry engages with prospective investors in the agriculture sector.
As we all know, the agriculture sector is key to the Rwandan economy, contributing one-third of the country’s GDP and about half of its export earnings. Approximately, 70% of the population lives in rural areas and is engaged in agriculture. Studies suggest that for every 1% increase in agriculture income the number of people living in extreme poverty decreases by 1.8%. Continued development of the agricultural sector is, therefore, critical for Rwanda’s success.
Recognizing this, the Government of Rwanda developed its Strategic Plan, for the Transformation of Agriculture, in order “to transform Rwandan agriculture from a subsistence sector to a market-oriented, value-creating sector, and to increase rural income and reduce poverty.”
The United States Government, through USAID, is committed to supporting this goal. Since 2010, USAID has invested more than $170 million USD or 138.44 billion RWF to support the Rwandan agricultural sector as part of our Feed the Future program. As part of this effort the Private Sector Driven Agricultural Growth project, a $24.6 million project aims to increase private investment in the agricultural sector. Through this program USAID has worked with various Rwandan Government agencies, such as the Ministry of Agriculture and the Rwanda Development Board, and the private sector to address key issues constraining investment in the agricultural sector.
Key among these constraints is access to land ownership usage and other land-related information. As part of this program to find accurate and up-to-date information solutions to investment impediments, USAID worked in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture to develop the Agricultural Land Information System (ALIS). As you will see during the upcoming presentations, this system is an incredible land information database that will prove to be a remarkable business tool for both MINAGRI and prospective investors in the sector. The Agricultural Land Information System incorporates information on all 57,000 parcels of land owned by MINAGRI throughout the country.
Through ALIS, prospective investors will be able to locate land that meets the selection criteria for their investment ideas. Information such as plot size, agro-ecological conditions, and proximity to water sources, feeder or main roads is available in ALIS. More importantly, this information will be accessible over the internet, and provide critical information to prospective investors around the world.
ALIS will also be an important tool for MINAGRI to help monitor and track usage of available arable land and get up-to-date information on available infrastructure in the field. With this information, MINAGRI will be able to appropriately prioritize, plan, and budget for profitable public-private partnerships or prospective potential privatization projects.
This achievement would not have been possible without the outstanding collaboration and partnership with MINAGRI, and the Rwanda Natural Resource Authority. The leadership of USAID, in partnership with Esri Rwanda, was also instrumental to the successful development of this tool, which we hope will bring more private investment to the Rwandan agricultural sector.
The U.S. Government is proud to be a significant partner in this success, and we are committed to continuing to support Rwanda’s efforts to expand economic growth through private investments, especially to rural areas.
This is in line with our strong collaboration with the government and people of Rwanda to ensure that the Feed the Future program successfully achieves our common goal of transforming the Rwanda agricultural sector from subsistence to a market-driven engine for economic growth.
Thank you Honorable Minister of State Nsengiyumva, for your partnership and continued support, and thanks to all our partners for your remarkable effort in developing this innovative Agriculture Land Information System.
I look forward to increased usage of ALIS that will lead to concrete private investments in the sector.