Impact of farmer support and socio-economic factors on agricultural production in Gikongoro Province, Rwanda.
Bizoza, Alfred Runezerwa.
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Rwanda, in its transition phase since 1994, has had the support of major international development organizations, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations Development Program, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and other development organizations. The aim of this support is to promote Rwandan agriculture in which 45 percent of the Rwandan GDP and 90 percent of employment share originate. The possible role that farmers can play in this process through their small-scale farmers' associations is well recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture in Rwanda. Farmers in Gikongoro province, the study area, are constrained by many factors, such as soil infertility, small land areas, and lack of access to modern inputs (e.g., seed, fertilizer and lime) and agricultural credit. In addition, land degradation in the form of soil erosion, soil acidity, and nutrient depletion undermines soil productivity leading to poor crop yields, and keeps farmers dependent on potential support from government and non-governmental projects. Between 2000 and 2004, farmers in Gikongoro province received support from the Development Activity Program (DAP) under the umbrella of World Vision International, Rwanda. The DAP supports farmers mainly in land terracing for soil erosion control, and supported farmers also receive modern inputs (fertilizer, seed and lime), storage facilities, and training. This study analyzes the impact of agricultural assistance afforded by the DAP and socioeconomic characteristics of households on agricultural production in Gikongoro province. Data for this study were collected from July to August 2004 using a stratified multistage sample of 204 household heads who are members of 24 farmers' associations of which 10 are supported by the DAP in the three districts; Mudasomwa, Kivu, and Nyamagabe. The study compares DAP supported and unsupported farmers in terms of differences in household incomes and crop yields. Descriptive statistics indicate that DAP supported farmers have significantly higher yields, household income, and better access to modern inputs and terraced land than unsupported farmers. These results seem to indicate that DAP support has had a significant impact on agricultural production and household incomes in Gikongoro province. However, these results are based only on a univariate analysis. The relationship between socioeconomic characteristics and household potato production in Gikongoro province was also analyzed to identify other factors that affect food production. A recursive system of linear and log-linear equations was estimated to analyze the effects of DAP, cultivated potato area, liquidity, gender of the household head (producer), years of schooling, family size, and age of the producer on farmers' productivity as measured by potato yields. Investment in operating inputs (fertilizer, seed, and lime) was used as a determinant of potato yields. Results indicate that cultivated potato area, liquidity, family size, and age (greater experience and lower transaction costs) of the household head significantly increase the use of operating inputs, which in turn has a significant positive impact on potato yield. The study suggests that DAP may need to be more selective in supporting farmers, focusing more on the farm size, education and family size profile of association members when deciding where to channel support. The study also recommends more research into the efficiency of land rental and credit markets to better understand land and liquidity constraints to improved household production in Gikongoro province. A networking model for supporting farmers' associations is proposed, in which a joint role for the Rwandan government, academic and research institutions, NGOs, and the private sector is expected to lead to sustainable agricultural development in Gikongoro province, Rwanda.
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