Climate Mitigation Food Security Trade Policy at Work

Climate, Food, Trade: Where is the Policy Nexus? – Rwanda

As in other parts of the EAC, in Rwanda, climate change is altering agriculture and trade patterns since most agriculture in Rwanda is weather and rainfall reliant. But initiatives, suchs as crop intensification and assignment of suitable crop-ecological zones programmes have already helped the country improve on food security when trading these crops between zones. The study strongly suggests a shift towards more sustainable agriculture practices in Rwanda, taking into account climate-friendly production and energy generation, water management, and organic farming initiatives to address food security concerns. This publication is part of a series of five country studies conducted in the EAC member countries Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.

This report presents an analysis of linkages of trade policies with food security and climate change in Rwanda. It is structured in four chapters. Chapter one provides an introduction and methodology of the study. Chapter two gives a situation analysis of climate change and related policy framework in Rwanda and in the EAC region. It also relates the commitment of Rwanda in the international protocol, trade and food security overviews. Chapter three details the linkages of trade, climate change and food security, while chapter four draws the conclusion and provides the way forward. The recommendations from this study will be a basis for awareness raising, capacity building and networking of multistakeholders in a bid to arrive at the requisite policies.

In Rwanda, climate change is altering agricultural and trade patterns by increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events. This has an impact on seasonís disturbances that often mislead farmersí behaviour like planting dates, dry spells and management practices. Therefore, lower yields, increase of crop diseases, reduction of water resources and flooding make the population food insecure.

As climate change is anticipated to increase the incidence of food insecurity in Rwanda, trade has the potential to counter this effect by delivering agricultural goods to regions experiencing a decline in productivity. The adaptive capacity of rural population may be increased by developing technologies at various levels of the value chain of different commodities and develop the small and medium industry that creates more off-farmers employment in Rwanda.

Food security in Rwanda is negatively affected by several factors among which is the lack of agriculture insurance, high transportation costs, low diversification of export products, high taxes and trade deficit. The Rwandan high trade deficit affects general population income, reduces government annual tax incomes, which in turn contributes to vulnerability of the population to climate change and reduces budgeting capacity of the government to intervene in climate change resilience capacity activities for citizens.

Rwanda has policies and strategies which are positively contributing to agricultural productivity, enhanced trade and addressing climate change. However, there is a need to improve road networks and food commodity markets as an incentive for agriculture productivity and enhanced trade. Good policies and strategies, as well as improved infrastructure, favour the reduced greenhouse gas emissions and resilience to climate change in Rwanda.

The trade of food and agricultural products can contribute to both climate change adaptation and mitigation, and trade measures will likely be used by policy makers to encourage mitigation. It has been argued that, in this context of climate change and agriculture, it is imperative to identify and implement both correct international climate change and agricultural trade rules.

Rwanda still heavily depends on the agricultural sector and the increased trade opportunities would empower its economic growth. There is need at policy level to integrate and synergise the trade Climate, Food, Trade: Where is the Policy Nexus? policy to climate change, food security and disaster management programmes; and to create a vulnerability reduction strategy based on the national poverty reduction strategies and other government policies. Also, investing in road network and market infrastructure, erosion control, agricultural production and processing, diversifying the small and medium industry for off-farms employment is necessary.

It is recommended that the national stakeholders that include government policy makers, private sector, farmers, development partners and civil society organisations (CSOs) play their roles effectively, making this linkage functional. For example, the policy makers must ensure the EAC summit decisions on agriculture are implemented, that is, 10 percent budget allocation and the private sector should be supported to play their rightful roles including, adopting clean energy in agro-processing plants, improving the supply chain and storage facilities and for farmers to improve farming methods, among others.

The EAC Secretariat should elaborate the regional policy that addresses the linkages between trade, climate change and food security. This may have the potential to raise the international financial capabilities to address the issues of climate change that affect trade and food security in the region.