Ambassador Gabriel Toyi, Executive Secretary of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), and Dr. Henk Breman, Chief of Party of IFDC’s CATALIST project, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at CATALIST’s Kiyovu office in Kigali, Rwanda, on February 3, 2010.
The MoU will formalize the organizations’ mutual goals, including promoting economic development in the nations of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Both CEPGL and IFDC focus on the transformation of subsistence farming into market-based agriculture. The collaboration between CEPGL and CATALIST is based on common objectives: agricultural intensification; input market development (fertilizers, seeds, crop protection products, etc.); and value chain creation and support (developing all aspects of agriculture from crop cultivation to purchase/consumption by the consumer). These objectives are accomplished by professionalizing those involved in the agricultural value chains and by creating a socio-economic climate that is conducive to growth and adaptation.
“Since most of the population from this region lives on declining agriculture caused by overpopulation, the only way to ensure food security is through agricultural intensification. By satisfying existing demands for crops, such as Irish potatoes, this process will increase farmers’ incomes and generate new employment opportunities,” said Breman.
A key goal shared by CEPGL and IFDC is contributing to the fight against poverty in the Great Lakes Region. To accomplish this goal, the organizations will:
- Facilitate agricultural intensification and rural development by working in a regional partnership.
- Help create the conditions and support the necessary interventions to promote economic development and exchange among the three countries, particularly in the agricultural sector.
“Our collaboration with IFDC/CATALIST will help us to achieve the main tasks that we were given by the member states: to intensify agriculture, ensure food security and alleviate poverty,” said Ambassador Toyi.
CEPGL and IFDC each have their own responsibilities under this agreement. CEPGL will focus on policy and advocacy concerns, as well as participate in the IFDC/CATALIST Advisory Committee for Regional Agricultural Trade and Collaboration. IFDC/CATALIST will be responsible for the technical aspects of agricultural intensification, for example, in the Ruzizi Plain, which is common to the three involved nations. In addition, both parties have agreed to put in place a monitoring and evaluation committee, which will meet every three months.