This research is about agricultural intensification policies and the role of smallholders in the future of agriculture in Africa. Agricultural intensification is once again high on the development policy agenda. While debates on what ‘sustainable intensification’ may entail for millions of smallholder African farmers are ongoing, there seems to be a consensus on two things. That intensification is required; and that successful intensification, resulting in increased productivity, will be beneficial for the millions of smallholding families whose livelihoods are based to a significant degree on farming.
Livestock keeping can be beneficial to the wellbeing of small-holder farmers in the developing countries. Livestock can generate milk and meat to satisfy household’s nutritional needs, and if the supply permits, surplus production and reproduction can be a reliable farm revenue source. Application of farm animal manure can also boost soil fertility thus increasing crop production.
It is along these lines that the government of Rwanda sees crop-livestock integration as a critical aspect of its plan to intensify and commercialise agriculture. Various programmes and social protection schemes have contributed to increase staple food production and decrease rural poverty. The poverty count in rural areas, however, remain high and disproportionate: 49 percent of the rural population is poor compared to 22 percent of the urban population (GoR 2012, 2013). Moreover, there has been no study of the differential effects and impacts of agricultural intensification and commercialisation in Rwanda. What kinds of farmers in what situations can successfully use crop-livestock integration to intensify their production and increase their welfare?
Against this background, this study will explore crop-livestock integration as an element of smallholder intensification in Rwanda. Rwanda offers a highly relevant (policy) environment for this study because the issues of land and population pressure are already at centre stage.
GoR (2012). The third integrated household living conditions survey (EICV 3). National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda. Kigali.
GoR (2013). Strategic plan for the transformation of agriculture in Rwanda – Phase III. Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources. Kigali.