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The agricultural sector plays a vital role in Rwanda’s economy, providing livelihoods for most of the population. However, Rwandan farmers face numerous challenges that hinder their productivity and profitability. In this piece, we will explore the key challenges faced by farmers in the agricultural sector and how research can play a role in addressing these challenges and foster sustainable agricultural development.

Limited Access to Resources

What do we mean by limited resources?

  • A lack of land ownership, and fragmentation which poses a challenge to scaling up production.
  • Inadequate irrigation systems and unreliable rainfall patterns which limit water availability and impact crop yields.
  • Lack of ‘good quality seeds’ in-country leads to an additional cost for farmers as they seek to find these through imports from other countries.

How can we address this challenge through research?

  • Through research, innovative solutions such as drought-resistant crops, water harvesting techniques, and improved irrigation systems tailored to the local context can be developed. Research can also help identify suitable land management practices, and crop diversification and seed acquisition strategies, maximizing the potential of limited land resources

Limited Technical Knowledge and Skills

What do we mean by limited technical knowledge and skills?

  • Lack of access to training programs, extension services, and up-to-date agricultural information. Farmers, particularly small holder farmers, have raised concerns that this affects their earning potential, & that they are not prioritised when it comes to training programs as they do not produce high yields.

How can we address this challenge through research?

  • Research can bridge the knowledge gap through developing of farmer-friendly training modules and disseminating information through accessible channels like mobile applications, radio programs, and community workshops. Empowering farmers with improved agricultural techniques, pest management strategies, and efficient farming practices can lead to increased productivity and income.

Poor Infrastructure

What do we mean by poor infrastructure?

  • Inadequate roads, storage facilities, and market access. Farmers face difficulties in transporting their produce from farms to markets, resulting in post-harvest losses and reduced profitability.

How can we address this challenge through research?

  • Research can lead to the implementation of appropriate solutions to poor infrastructure such as establishment of rural roads, cold storage facilities, and improved market linkages. Additionally, the integration of digital technologies in farming can facilitate access to markets and allow farmers to receive a fair price for their produce.

Vanguard Economics mission is to, “Identify, design and implement homegrown solutions to the challenges populations face on their path to sustainable and inclusive prosperity”.

In line with this mission, over the last five years we’ve sought to address challenges experienced by farmers through research, initiatives such as Aflakiosk, and played a part in the sustainable development of the agricultural sector in Rwanda.

 

Written by Cynthia Iradukunda

Edited by Yvonne Mwiza