How does one transform a nation known for having a worrisome food deficit to one that is largely food self-sufficient? Dr. Agnes Kalibata has a straightforward answer, not in words but in action.
As the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) for the Republic of Rwanda, this leading lady has employed her result yielding, ‘no nonsense’ tactics to tackle the persistent Problem of food drought in Rwanda; making the country a role model for many other African countries.
For more than seven years, she has continued to champion a remarkable transformation in the Rwandan agriculture system; and has lifted more than one million Rwandans out of abject poverty. Currently in Rwanda, more than 400,000 families are farming coffee, now the country’s largest cash crop; resulting in a food surfeit and ideas to extend to horticulture.
Dr. Kalibata has been able to align national agricultural policies with the NEPAD/CAADP structures, which makes a commitment to increase government agriculture budget to 10 percent, making Rwanda the first country to adopt a Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) compact.
She has also remained at the fore front, propagating the Grow Africa Initiative, a partnership platform to accelerate investments for sustainable and inclusive growth in African agriculture.
Her exceptional policies include smart programs connecting farmers to their neighbors, innovative cow-sharing schemes, expansion of technologies linking farmers to interested buyers and localized cooperative farming programs.
You know what I find absolutely interesting about this power woman? She always has her smile on even in the face of challenges.
In addition to being the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), this purpose driven change maker also serves as chairman of the board for the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry (ISAE) and co-chairman of the National Clinical Research Center of Rwanda. She is a member of the Rwanda Development Board and also a member of the Strategic Advisory Council for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
Prior to her appointment as the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), Dr. Agnes Kalibata worked as the State Minister and Secretary General of MINAGRI and has also managed a World Bank project in Rwanda.
She completed her postdoctoral work at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Kampala, Uganda. She also holds a doctorate in entomology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She received a master’s degree in agriculture and a bachelor’s degree in entomology and biochemistry from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.
Dr. Agnes Kalibata has made an enormous impact in Africa. For Rwandans, lack of food has become a long forgotten issue. All thanks to the country’s queen of agriculture.