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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid