The agricultural landscape that characterizes the entire country is characterized by terraced green slopes, scattered settlements, heavily parceled cultivation areas and a variety of cultivated plants.
According to ezinereligion, agriculture is the basis of the Rwandan economy. About 75% of the population lives directly from agriculture and from the processing and marketing of agricultural products. The primary sector contributes 39% to the gross domestic product, most jobs depend largely on it. Around 50% of export revenues are generated through agricultural products such as coffee and tea, as well as pyrethrum (flowers for the production of insecticides), flowers and cinchona bark in small quantities. However, this takes place under extremely difficult conditions:
- The fertility of the soils varies from region to region, with poor, acidic and tropical soils predominating. In contrast, the volcanic soils in the north of the country are very fertile. The mild annual temperatures and the low temperature fluctuations during the year usually allow two harvests per year.
- The advancing climate change increases the pressure and calls for acute solutions. Temperatures are already rising and rainfall patterns are changing in Rwanda. Increasing extreme events such as floods and landslides, which often leave deaths and general devastation, are the order of the day.
- The extremely high population and the likewise high annual population growth result in a scarcity of land and limited land reserves, which continue to decline. Smallholder families on average only have less than one hectare of agricultural land. About two thirds of the total area of the country is used for agriculture.
- In addition, there is the difficult agriculture on steep slopes in the “land of a thousand hills”. This hilly nature, which is typical of the country, leads to heavy soil erosion with frequent, for this geographical location (between 1 ° and 3 ° south of the equator), typical heavy rainfall. Progressive soil degradation is another consequence that is accelerated by a lack of periodic fallow land.
In order to counteract the acute situation, some efforts are being initiated by the government, such as erosion control with the help of nationwide terracing measures, the utilization of marshland, the introduction of efficient seeds and the use of fertilizers.
Furthermore, the capitalization of agriculture is advanced. For this purpose, farmer cooperatives are intensively promoted, financial means are made available, in addition to private investments, among other things through targeted channeling of development aid. A regionalization of individual cultures that has already been decided is currently only being implemented to a limited extent.
The government’s contribution is aimed at increasing earnings. In this way agriculture is strengthened as the engine of the internal economy as a whole, whereby successes have gradually been achieved, but which have remained far below the necessary level. Since 2008 the government has assumed that food production in most parts of the country is in principle sufficient to ensure the basic supply of local food for the population. However, this assumes a favorable seasonal change. Food security is not given according to FAO data (approx. 30% of the population suffers from malnutrition according to FAO statistics).
As before, however, subsistence farming predominates, which takes up a large part of the agricultural area. More than two thirds of the production is used to feed the family, so that hardly any surplus is left for regional marketing.
In terms of quantity and value, bananas are the most important crop for the domestic market. Other crops are beans, sorghum (millet), corn, cassava, sweet potatoes, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, kale, peanuts and tropical fruits such as papaya, avocado, passion fruit, mango, pineapple etc.
In order to increase exports, the state (since 2002) has promoted the revitalization of tea and coffee cultivation with the help of cooperation partners.
Coffee is mostly grown in smallholdings and is traditionally the only source of income for many farmers. Due to the sharp drop in world market prices at the end of the 1980’s, coffee trees were considered unproductive and have been partially destroyed in favor of other crops.
New impulses put the focus on added value through further processing of the cultivated products on site. The nationwide initiated formation of cooperatives plays an important role. The aim is to enable investments, among other things, in coffee washing systems that individual farmers would not be able to finance. In the area of these cooperative operations, positive developments can be recorded. One advantage is the joint direct marketing, which leads to higher revenues for the farmers.
In the past, tea was mainly produced in state-owned plantations, where the tea was also processed. A small proportion was grown on cooperative and farm businesses. In the meantime, tea companies have largely been privatized or are being advertised for privatization.
In Rwanda, livestock farming has been known for a long time. Cattle in particular are given a very high level of importance, which used to be less in the economic than in the social area. The number of animals determined the social rank of a family. The value of the cattle was expressed, among other things, in the size of the horns. The meat and milk yields were and will remain very low in some cases. These poor yields can be explained on the one hand by the breed of cattle, on the other hand by the malnutrition of the cattle due to the overgrazing of the few remaining pastures.
Specific reform strategies have been in place since 2004 and their implementation has already achieved some success. It is hoped that an improvement in cattle breeding will be achieved through a more profitable cattle breed, which is preferred today, as well as through integrated semi-intensive cattle husbandry with field forage and stables. The keeping of cattle on free pasture is prohibited by state regulation. ” Girinka”Also known as the” one cow per poor family program “, is a government initiative aimed at helping families in need to own a cow. It is a so-called” home grown “initiative to improve agricultural yields and nutritional support In addition, the beneficiary group experiences social appreciation, as the cow is traditionally a valuable gift and status symbol.
The keeping of poultry and rabbits, but also goats, pigs and sheep, is becoming increasingly important due to the comparatively undemanding feeding and care.
Despite some advances in animal husbandry, the production of milk and meat is insufficient to meet the population’s protein needs. Very few Rwandans can afford a regular meat supply. Most of the protein supply comes from legumes and grains.