Lives of smallholder farmers in Rwanda
Agriculture being an act of rearing and growing crops for commercial and home consumption has impacted lives for smallholder farmers in different angles of their, and children’s lives. Agriculture holds the lives of almost 90% of the Rwandan population. According to J.J Mbonigaba(2013), Agriculture in Rwanda remains the trade sector that holds the potential for expansion, and Agriculture in Rwanda accounts for 33 percent of the country’s GDP according to FAO 2020. Agriculture is the main economic activity that employs 70% of the whole population and holds 72 % of the working population that is employed in Rwanda. The spirit of the sector growing derives its power from smallholder farmers who grow coffee and tea at a small pace.
Coffee, tea, and cotton were grown at an individual level and a small pace but have boosted and spread the image of the country worldwide where its products are consumed. Coffee and tea are the main exported products to the rest of the world which enable Rwanda trade with other countries. The agriculture in Rwanda is subsistence farming that aims at-home consumption. With the traditional methods and knowledge gap in the sector, households, education, healthcare and savings for the future are affected at the smallholder level.
Despite the improved primary health coverage in Rwanda, ease of doing business within the country, different agricultural innovation strategies, contributions to the development of the nation, and the employment opportunities. The agriculture sector is less contributing to the lives and households of farmers’ families in Rwanda.
Contribution, the innovation of the agriculture sector in Rwanda to the lives of smallholder farmers.
Agriculture accounts for 75 percent of the industrial raw materials, employs 70 % of Rwandan and contributes to 45 percent of the country’s revenue according to CFSVA_2018. Pdf. The agriculture sector is the backbone of the country’s economy with 90% of the country’s food needed. It is obvious that agriculture plays such a big role in the development of a country’s level but individual economic status is different. Twahirwa, 2020 highlighted what the CFSVA report released that 4 percent of Rwandan that is equivalent to 82000 homes are consuming a poor insecure food, unbalanced diet due to the low purchasing power of the household.
In the report made by MINAGRI (2018) former Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi highlighted some of the changes made from the year 2010 with an increase of Rwf 1.082 trillion to Rwf 1.785 trillion in the year of 2014. The above figures explain how much agriculture is contributing to the country’s income that helps to develop other sectors or help to expand the activity by introducing other technologies that will help to boost the economy. Rwanda is benefiting from exportation made from crops such as coffee, tea, pyrethrum, maize grain and other plants that bring foreign exchange. The development and contribution made by the agriculture sector point to the development of the nation and other sectors but it is hard to find the contribution to a person’s life.
Food supply and socio-development highlighted as the development made, are the productivity of the sector whereby almost 80 percent of Rwandans rely heavily on the activity — looking at how different percentages support the analysis and tell more of an agricultural story here in Rwanda. This is significant that emphasized that employment opportunities are being provided to both men and women said Word Bank (2013). Thirty-nine percent of GDP, 80 percent of employment, and 90% of the country’s food needs. Agriculture is essential for Rwanda’s growth and development that will reduce poverty.
Furthermore, FAO(2018) argued that agriculture is essential and is the most significant sector contributing to Rwanda’s economy regarding employment opportunities, food supply to the citizens and the primary export sector to feed foreign in need. FAO clarified that 70% of the population engaged in the sector/ activity and employs 72% of Rwandans. UN Comtrade Database(2017) supported FAO(2018) about the importance of agriculture to Rwandans and how the Rwandan government predicts future feed according to the vision set 2020 and how impactful it is now and then.
Challenges that are affecting the lives of smallholder farmers
IPAR Rwanda Report(2009) Edouard Musabanganji, Antoine Karangwa and Philippe Lebailly(2016) claim on challenges faced in the sector.
FAO(2018) mentioned the challenges that hinder the activity from performing best and strategies that are being used. Climatic change, Land degradation and soil erosion, Weak processing capacity and higher value-added products placed on the market, Low levels of productivity for both crops and livestock due to low input use, poor production techniques and inefficient farming practices, strong dependence on rainfalls and vulnerability to climate shocks, Land use, and distribution and others.
Africa Kigali(2017)and FAO(2018) identified more of the agricultural challenges, and how affected it is due to the shortage in land availability, subsistence system and other inadequate technologies in the activity. The Government of Rwanda is promoting intensification as a strategy to increase production and farmers’ incomes. IPAR Rwanda Report(2009) pointed out the problem of Low and volatile agricultural productivity. However, the study of this problem requires more time to look for indicators/ factors behind its occurrence.
In the submitted work of abanganji, Edouard MusAntoine Karangwa and Philippe Lebailly in the 5th International conference of AAAE in Ethiopia talks about the challenges of the agricultural sector here in Rwanda and how smallholder farmers who farm at small scale are being affected. Not only the skills, motivations, and knowledge of the farmer that can contribute to the success of the activity but policy institutions and other agricultural stakeholders can perceive and help smallholder farmers to improve the socio-economic condition. In the review by Edouard Musabanganji, Antoine Karangwa, and Philippe Lebailly, I found that Pretty et al. (2014:18) argues that investment in agricultural development remains an urgent priority globally, but the government doesn’t invest more resources in the sector which contributes to its failure to satisfy the farmers and others as well.
In regards to Green Facts (2018), sustainability is essential where there is low and climatic change is affecting. An increase in the productivity of agricultural sustainability will help to control the above challenges if we cater to financial limits and policy institutions.
More also, CABI(2016), and FAO(2018) influence on the agricultural Innovation in Rwanda whereby CABI(2016) argues that food insecurity, increased food demand, low farmer’s income and use of natural resources are the most affecting the sector. With the number of challenges that the agricultural sector is meeting with, CABI(2016) contributed with the number of agricultural innovations that will deal with different problems such that food security is improved, increase farmers’ incomes and protect the use of natural resources.
CABI has been a critical contributor to the agricultural innovation framework, bringing the valuable experience of its Plantwise food security program to the platform. Since most of the citizens here in Rwanda live in rural areas, and they live through agricultural activities. Farmers lose from 30% to 70% of the food they grow to plant and on pests. With this regard, CABI said that Plantwise plant clinics and run trained doctors will help rural communities access practical information to lose less of their produce. The food lost affects the lives of farmers and their households as well.
Smallholder farmers need to improve their production with support from policy institutions so that their lives, child education are secured for present and future generations.
Imagine if at least we have an irrigation process to support the sector and how far climate change effects will be prevented due to too much sunshine.
Do we see something that farmers and other individuals can do themselves without waiting for the government to take part?. Is it possible that smallholder farmers can improve their production to impact their children’s education in the future with our support to them? how?
At the national level agriculture is contributing a lot but family and individual level, it’s less contributing. it is clear when we say that it employs 70% percent of the country’s population but the rationale behind their gain from the sector shows how contributive it is on the household. The agriculture sector is the next expansion sector if knowledge and skill gap is covered to benefit smallholder farmer.
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