News / Africa

DRC Leader Says Country Can Cut Poverty Through Agriculture

DRC's Congo's Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo Mapon at the Finance ministry in Kinshasa (April 2012 file photo).
DRC's Congo's Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo Mapon at the Finance ministry in Kinshasa (April 2012 file photo).
Nick Long
KINSHASA - The new prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo says the country could halve its poverty rate in the next five years by exploiting its vast agricultural potential.  Prime Minister Matata Ponyo Mapon made the claim in a speech to the parliament this week outlining his government’s agenda. But, there are few details yet as to how the DRC is going to meet this target.

In his first speech to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s new parliament, Ponyo said that if the agricultural sector could increase its growth rate to six percent, then the rate of absolute poverty in the country could be cut by 50 percent by 2017.

Agricultural growth could double

Ponyo suggests there is great potential to double agricultural growth, from three percent to six percent.  He says the country is only farming seven million hectares of the 75 million hectares of arable land.

The new government has just been sworn into office and has not yet drawn up a budget, so there were no details in the prime minister’s speech Monday on how much funding will be allocated to agriculture.

Funding will have to be sharply increased, says Roger Kizungu, who works at the Congo’s National Institute for Agricultural Research. Kizungu says that the first condition for achieving six percent growth in agriculture is for the government to commit 10 percent of its budget to rural development. He says the Congo has already made that commitment, but in fact it is spending far less than that and less than two percent on agriculture.

Government versus donors

Rural development includes spending on rural roads. The poor state of the road network is one of the biggest obstacles facing Congo’s farmers.

Kizungu tells VOA the second condition for achieving six percent growth in agriculture is for donors to let the government shoulder its responsibilities.  He says everyone agrees aid is needed, but that donors should not take over the state’s role, because the government would then wait for the donors to do everything.

He says donors have pledged that, if the government commits 10 percent of its budget to rural development, they would commit funds in the same proportion.

An opposition member of parliament, Martin Fayulu, questions whether agriculture really ranks high on the government’s list of spending priorities.

"The Ministry of Agriculture is ranked number 20 [in spending].  You see the place they have ranked agriculture.  There is no consistency.  This country was number one for palm oil in 1960s, and today Malaysia is exporting $20 billion every year in palm oil from the seeds they took from this country.  What’s the proposal for palm oil for this country?  Nothing."

Competing needs

A member of parliament with the ruling alliance, Patrick Muyaya, tells VOA that this government is making a priority of improving services for the Congolese people, but there are many competing needs.

"You know we have a lot of challenges in our country, but the first is to give solutions for health problems, school problems, water and power.  That’s the needs our people have," he said.

In his speech, Prime Minister Ponyo told parliament that he would be watching closely the performance of all sectors, including the national electricity company.  As he said this, there was a power cut - one of several during his speech.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid