February 24, 2016, I published an article in Kinyarwanda which analyzed the recent publications [ii] published on agriculture in Rwanda. As in previous analyzes [iii] – [iv], yet I was pointing out that the Rwandan government economic policy dominated by the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front), had led Rwandan agriculture deadlocked. [V]
Many local newspapers continue to publish in the same direction, highlighting the contrast between the shiny statistics of increased agricultural production and chronic famines raging in every corner of the country. [Vi]
Two articles have particularly impressed me. 1, English, researcher Dr. Neil Dawson, highlights that the agricultural policy of Rwanda has an adverse effect on the poor. The second, from 16.02.2016 and in Kinyarwanda, the statement by the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Mrs. Dr. G. Mukeshimana, who says that the problems of Rwandan agriculture are related to the regression agricultural research. [vii]
These two figures show that the best government statistics do not represent actual field events where food self-sufficiency would be an achievement for many Rwandans. It is common knowledge fact that official statistics are often manipulated [viii], to show another image [ix] of agriculture and economic development in Rwanda, which would be on the way to ensure food self-sufficiency. Yet all economic indicators are flashing red [x], showing the poverty and famine!
According to the 2013 World Report on Human Development, Rwanda has a Gini index of 0.53, which ranks among the most unequal countries in the world. The richest 10% account for 40% of income, while the poorest 10% are content with just 3.5% of revenues. In fact 82% of the population lives on less than $ 2 USD per day, the population below the poverty line (those living on less than $ 1.25 / day) is 63.2% instead of 44 9% put forward by the official figures. The population languishing in multidimensional poverty is estimated at 69% by the same ratio [xi].
Local press [xii] §§ show economic realities characterizing poverty, figures and pictures to support, when officials have difficulty in accepting this Rwandan misery they want to hide from international opinion. The unfortunate alibi, consisting of infrastructure growing like mushrooms in “very clean Kigali”, hide this terrible evil gnawing the little people, described by Ansoms (2009): “As elsewhere, policy is controlled by elites case in Rwanda. The majority of poor smallholder undoubtedly little influence on the political situation. The policy-making officials have little institutional or personal links with rural development issues, and many have a condescending attitude, even contemptuous, toward poor smallholders practicing “traditional” forms of agriculture “[xiii] .
The failure of the RPF agricultural policy therefore takes the following main reasons:
– Agricultural products are poorly paid by cooperatives controlled by the RPF and the end of the circuit, for processing or marketing companies attached to the RPF [xiv];
– Economic policy is far from worrying about agro-pastoralists; rather it puts at its heart the interests of ubiquitous societies RPF. [xv]
This explains why the widespread rural poverty. Although primary education is declared “free”, toddlers are unable to attend school because of poverty [xvi] and hunger [xvii]; Instead, they roam in urban centers or engage in odd jobs to survive. [Xviii] Some local authorities, not to miss their sometimes foolish performance contracts, use militias to fight blood of the poor who can not pay mutuals, or to force them to rebuild their destroyed homes under the pretext that they do not meet the decreed standards. [xix]
This article therefore aims to comment or clarify some comments made in the writings of Dr. Neil Dawson and the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock.
2. Materials and methods:
To better understand the problem we relied on official or published documents include:
– Crop Intensification Programme in Rwanda [xx];
– Agricultural Reform Act [xxi]
– Publication of LPDI (Land Deal Politics Initiative) [xxii]
– Agricultural Research results of ISAR (Institute of Agronomic Sciences of Rwanda) alone or in collaboration with International Agricultural Research Centres from 1979 to 1992 [xxiii];
– Local newspapers written in Kinyarwanda. [Xxiv]
The information gathered allowed to comment on the publication of Dr. Neil Dawson, and the public statement of Ms. Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Dr G. Mukeshimana. They have also given the opportunity to present a brief update on agricultural research in Rwanda from 1930 to 1994.
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Publication of Dr. Neil Dawson. [Xxv]
The article entitled “Rwanda Surprisingly Bad Hit by the ‘Green Revolution’ in French” Rwanda is unpleasantly surprised by the green revolution “is clear. It reads “Rwandan agricultural policies hurting the Poorest of the poor”, in French “Rwandan agricultural policies face the poorest of the poor.”
This finding corroborates the reservations and concerns that we have always expressed to the agricultural policy of the RPF. specific facts show that in general and agriculture in particular economic policy is not intended to bring farmers out of poverty:
– The choice of the neoliberal system screen to actually hides a blatant monopoly RPF companies;
– The agricultural reform to the despoliation of farmers from their land and very awkward orientation monoculture are catastrophic policies for the poor and are intended to promote the new capitalists made from scratch by the RPF and the RPF.
Dr. Neil Dawson believes that forcing farmers to adopt monoculture abandoning his polyculture system (multi-crops) is a way to weaken its domestic economy. This leaves a bitter observation: “the transformation of Rwandan agriculture through the use of inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides …), access to which requires monetization of agriculture and capital that the poor farmer n ‘no’.
It is absurd to force the farmer to cultivate this or that speculation and force it to be part of a practice of agricultural credit. The farmer is an economic operator; it is for him to take the financial risk, and no one else should it impose.
Worse is to threaten the law on agricultural reform [xxvi] acting as if he does not value its operations as required, he will lose his lands which constitute its major input. The producer therefore increase the poor status of the status of “free land”; He will be pushed to wandering, to family instability, poverty.
These policies of plunder of land, rendering victims of the laws passed by parliament imposed by the RPF parliamentarians who care very little of the interests of farmers, to whom they have no accountability, can only produce effects that Dr. Neil Dawson found.
This situation is aggravated by the fact that farmers are victims of local government that has the “performance contract” with the RPF regime that puts in place and to which it reports. Poor farmers are therefore in an unmanageable and very difficult situation because they have no one to defend them. Dr. Neil Dawson notes that when the farmer sees routed to such a hopeless situation, he prefers to anticipate events and sale operations. It is thus forced to become unemployed farm, wandering with children without a future; its poverty can only worsen.
Dr. Neil Dawson for the finding is validated by three facts:
– First: The Rwandan government requires the farmer to take the economic risk without giving financial guarantees profitability of the proposed system; because at the end of the production chain, there is no remunerative prices for agricultural products;
– Second: The farmer normally has its production system to ensure food security for his family. The government does not guarantee that food security or the availability of substitute products or basic food products that the farmer does not produce itself. There is also no indication that the financial income of the monoculture will buy it at affordable prices, it can not produce itself;
– Third: Even domestic labor is considered “free”, the government gives no guarantee that the seeds of quality required, nor does any agricultural insurance undertaking or exemption from debt seed and fertilizer in case of unfavorable weather conditions;
The researcher Dr. Neil Dawson does not deny that agricultural production could increase, but noted that this would only be valid for one third of producers. If 85% of Rwandans are farmers as stated by the honorable Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, that means that 57% do not record any increase in production. This situation affects almost 7,000,000 people!
The families of these people will never reach the performance advocated by agricultural policies. They will be subtracted from their land and irreversible slide into poverty. That explains the hunger that gnaws every corner of Rwanda, even formerly reputable attics areas of the country like the Plateau de l’Est, Mutara and northwestern Rwanda.
The central problem of this whole system stems from the policy of prohibiting the farmer to choose himself a farming system ensuring the safety of his family. The peasant is forced to practice monoculture that has, in his eyes, no technical or economic justification. Moreover, further analysis indicated that behind the Rwandan Agricultural Policy nickname “green revolution” hide the interests of US multinationals’ Monsanto and Syngenta “[xxvii] associated with local economic operators who are the RPF corporate chain. It is these companies that control the Banker provider of agricultural credit sector and award contracts relating to inputs of transportation services that farmers are forced to use despite them. Farmers have no power to negotiate these inputs in prices since they are in a neo liberalism nurtured by the monopoly of these companies. This is the farce of “good governance” served ad libitum by the regime to its foreign sponsors.
3. 2. Statements by the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Mrs. Dr. G. Mukeshimana.
Madam Minister said: “Some problems that we record in agriculture are related to climate change and the sharp decline in agricultural research for the replacement of the Institute of Agronomic Sciences of Rwanda (ISAR) by Rwanda Agriculture Board ( RAB). This is due also to the fact that ISAR has left little results … “.
This last statement seems to be very ambiguous. Is there any search results or germplasm and animals lost during the war?
But when she added that “This means that the RAB could not multiply seeds or create new varieties, produce inputs for increased production, or research on production constraints in order to provide appropriate solutions. … “[xxviii], things become much clearer. The unfortunate situation has little to do with ISAR. But Mrs. Minister has plenty to find a plausible explanation of the mess that his government has pressed Rwandan agriculture.
As I pointed out in my conference in Amsterdam on 11.19.2015 “Sustainable development is not feasible without true reconciliation and democracy in Rwanda, qui are prerequisite for peace and security” [xxix], one of the handicaps for Rwanda is the eternal repetition: the newcomer destroyed what his predecessors have built, to start anew. This lack of capitalization of the efforts already made to results is a huge and regrettable waste of financial resources.
Yes, agricultural research has suffered from the war of “liberation” of the RPF (1990-1994) and post-conflict instability (1995-2002). But we must be clear: the search is not a magic wand and do not work. Whether fundamental, applied and development research requires a lot of human and financial resources, time and assiduous unwavering integrity. But the Rwandan agricultural research today seems to suffer from the lack of political will [xxx] and ethics from the RPF regime and among some researchers. Is it not surprising, for example, to see that qu’ISAR agricultural research results was made, are rarely referenced in the new research?
Yet these results are available in national institutions active sisters Agricultural Research of Burundi, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia who were grouped in ASARECA (Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa) and in the International Research Centers farm of the CGIAR [xxxi] (Consortium of International agricultural Research Centers) who worked with ISAR.
If we want to conduct the search without well documented of all, how Dr. Mukeshimana she thought quickly achieve tangible progress in agricultural research?
3.3. Brief overview of agricultural research in Rwanda 1930-1994
Agricultural research in Rwanda began with INEAC [xxxii] (National Institute for Agronomic Study of the Belgian Congo) in 1930. It received its actual form in 1950 [ten-year development plan for the territory of Ruanda-Urundi (1950 -1960)] to solve the problems of famine that ravaged Rwanda and Burundi placed under supervision Belgian.
The transfer of power between Belgian officials and Rwandan researchers took place after independence in 1962, the year of birth of the Institute of Agronomic Sciences of Rwanda (ISAR). Agricultural research has begun to rise around 1972 with the arrival of Rwandan academic frameworks (agricultural engineers, veterinarians, forest engineers ….). When the 1990 war broke out, ISAR had just had an experience of 28 years of research Agro-forestry-pastoral.
The effort for a buoyant quality research began with the first “master plan” in 1985. In 1994, this plan was in its second phase which led to the decentralization of research to take account of regional agricultural specialization and the need for research and development in the real environment. And 8 regional centers of agricultural research were created: Ruhengeri: Potato – Corn; Rwerere: Wheat – Triticale – Potato – Corn; Mutara: Rice – Soy – Irrigated Corn – Breeding (ranching); Kibungo Bananeraie; Karama: Sorghum – Cassava – Breeding – Sprinkler irrigation; Rubona: Cassava – Sweet Potato – Coffee – Sorghum – Bean – Arboretum; Gakuta-CZN: Forestry – Agroforestry – Lands acids; Ntendezi: Bananeraie – coffee.
It is regrettable that the war has destroyed some results and research infrastructure obtained through costly investments. Were physically destroyed several selected animals and trees / tree crops (coffee and forest heritage); The germplasm bank created Rubona those Ruhande and Ruhengeri (NPAP) were also ransacked; several research materials (Lab) were looted. But if there is political will and substantial funding, vegetable seed [xxxiii] can be recovered in the ASARECA networks and CGIAR.
An uninformed agricultural research publications in Rwanda reader think she only started after taking power in 1994 RPF, alas, and Ms. Minister of Agriculture and Livestock does well to remind him its researchers: they should make reference to previous results obtained by researchers including ISAR. It is neither honest nor too professional tracing research or other science on changes and political propaganda.
ISAR had achieved very significant results in the vegetable field. That’s why it hurts the heart to read or hear that “farmers planted the cassava that has not produced; farmers planted the seeds came from abroad and did not germinate … .. “.
Do we blame the research and researchers or inconsistent agricultural policies?
See the case closely. ISAR had selected seed suitable for each agro-climatic region and had developed appropriate cultivation techniques. We’ll give a few non-exhaustive examples to not let continue hovering blur that leaves reflected the insinuations of the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock.
– Potato: Sangema for land rich in high altitudes; Cruza for acid soils; and other varieties or cultivars as Mabondo, Kirundo, Kinigi, Gahinga, Montsama, etc. were created or selected by PNAP (National Program for Potato) in Ruhengeri. Most exceed 15t / ha, elites reached 30 t / ha of fresh tubers.
In this area, ISAR working with CIP (International Potato Center) research stations Nairobi- Kenya and Lima-Peru;
– Cassava: Creolina, Kibombwe, Kiryumukwe, Eala, Maguruyinkware, Mulundi who met or exceeded the production of 20t / ha of fresh roots. tubers programs were executed in collaboration with IITA (International Institute of Tropical Agriculture) in Ibadan, Nigeria;
– Sweet potatoes: Tura (tugure) Mugande, Karebenzungu, Masetsa, Gihingumukungu, Nserura, Rusenya, Nsasagatebo, Gahungezi, Wadada, Rutambira and others whose productivity could dépasser15t / ha of fresh tubers.
– Bean: Umubano, Vuninkingi, Puebla, Gisenyi Ngwinurare, Mabondo, Urunyumba with productivity exceeding 1.5t / ha of dry seeds;
– Soybean varieties which were widely disseminated: Palmetto, Ogden, Bossier, with support from the breeding program and Rhizobium inoculation of the laboratory service Rubona;
– Pea Collection with special focus on Kyondo varieties Nyagashaza, Rangiro II Cyambiro and Ibyerabirora.
ISAR working with CIAT (International Center for Tropical Agriculture) in Cali, Colombia and CIRAD (Centre for International Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development) in Paris, France.
– Corn: ISAR had an advanced program selecting varieties and cultivars, including multiplied in the centers of Ruhengeri and Rubona. This is among other Nyirakagori, Bambu, Katumani in collaboration with CYMMYT (International Centre for the selection and breeding of corn), in Mexico City. Productivity reached 4t / ha of dry grain and the producer kept its seeds;
– Sorghum: Several varieties selected SVR 157 which was used as raw grain BRALIRWA (Brasserie Limonaderie and Rwanda). ISAR collaborating in this program with ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics).
– Rice: ISAR began the breeding program in close cooperation with the rice projects;
– Wheat-Triticale: ISAR had selected and distributed some varieties and cultivars, especially to provide enough raw materials to mills Kabuga / Byumba and Ruhengeri.
3.3.4 Orchard – fruit and horticulture:
– Orange: ISAR was doing research on the “greening” and other diseases.
– Bananas: Collection of “germplasm” with 62 cultivars Rubona and setting up a “laboratory” purification by banana tissue culture in vitro. This program was executed in collaboration with IRAZ (Institute of Agricultural and Zootechnical Research) Gitega / Burundi.
– Lawyer: ISAR had made the selection of adapted varieties and much appreciated by farmers.
– There was also a collection of varieties of pineapple, Vegetable crops and flowers.
3.3.5 Other crops (industrial): ISAR working with the Office of Industrial Crops (RISO).
– Coffee trees: The research on varieties, cultivation techniques and the fight against diseases and pests was far advanced. The best known varieties are: Mibilizi Bourbon Mayagwez, Jackson, Catura, Catuai … particular emphasis was also placed on the mulch in combination with agroforesterieen collaboration with ICRAF (International Center for Research in Agroforestry) in Nairobi, Kenya. ISAR-bought seed all nurseries of Rwanda and would begin a breeding program apical tissues in the laboratory in collaboration with the University of Gembloux.
– Tea, the Pyrethrum and Cinchona were collection. Pyrethrum was worked Tamira then shelved, care of OPYRWA (Pyrethrum Board in Rwanda).
3.3.6 Forestry and Agroforestry:
– Natural Nyungwe Forest and other: In collaboration with American universities and forestry projects “Gishwati and Nyungwe”, ISAR was doing research on the conservation, enhancement and rational exploitation of natural forests.
– The Central forest seed Ruhande supplied seed all reforestation nurseries MINAGRI.
– Based on farmers’ knowledge and practices, and on the choice of local and exotic species appropriate, ISAR had begun to streamline Agroforestry which had become a common practice across the country. This program was supported by the International Centre for Agroforestry, ICRAF Nairobi, Kenya. [Xxxiv]
– Cattle: Research on cross breeds “Jersey Pie-black, Brown Swiss, Sahiwal” was very advanced. The results had allowed the progressive farmers and cooperatives to benefit from the efficient cross-breeds “mixed race three races” Ankole-jersey-Sahiwal adapted to local ecological environment and socio-economic life and livestock feeding constraints.
Research on the local breed “Ankole” very resistant to many diseases and infections, and less demanding in power, began in 1976 and identified quality broodstock and female offspring can give on average 10L / d of fresh milk.
– Sheep and Goats: The research on small ruminants, including sheep and goats, was in its infancy and in parallel with artificial insemination.
– Gallinaceans and Fish Culture ISAR had left the research project of MINAGRI and the National University of Rwanda (UNR), but only helped in the diagnosis of diseases and the provision of vaccines by its veterinary laboratory Rubilizi.
3.3.8 Agricultural Techniques and extension:
– Fight against erosion (LAE), cultivation techniques, fertilization of crops: Many results were obtained on the EIA, cultivation techniques, spinning techniques and crop association, the use of organic and mineral fertilizers in different soil types with special emphasis on acid soils. The characterization of the physical environment has produced valuable information that holistic certainly affect the current restructuring of the medium.
What sensible agronomist will, for example, ignore the LAE by radical terraces (bench terraces) is effective, but only if it is applied incorrectly, it can lead to the reduction of soil fertility, protect and even in certain circumstances expose to landslide disasters, irreversible?
– Plant pathology laboratories and in vitro culture to PNAP-Ruhengeri and Rubona had allowed the treatment of certain viral diseases including Potato and Banana.
– Socio-economics: the study of man in relation to his environment and his vital needs produced results that guided rectifiaient or research topics.
– Extension: technology transfer techniques, developed through the results of the socio-economy and characterization of the physical, had helped to provide extension-performance seeds and responding to consumer tastes and that appropriate agronomic techniques. These technological packages were offered, popularized, without any physical or police coercion. In agronomic techniques and socio-economy, ISAR enjoyed the support of GTZ (German Technical Cooperation Agency), FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), UNDP, CIAT, etc.
Without being exhaustive, we wanted to point out some search results made by ISAR and are sufficiently documented (see note 23). RAB researchers can find methodologies that have achieved these results. They can then be inspired to make any improvements or make adaptive research based on new constraints or potential assets, as well as recent research tools. Madam Minister G. Mukeshimana is right to point out that agricultural research in Rwanda was backing up, especially by ignoring what had already been done.
But it is not enough to blame RAB. Research requires lot and is expensive.
She has enough attention and funding [xxxv] and a scientific liberty to refer same to the writings of non-aligned science / non-allies of the RPF? Does it have been assigned priorities to really solve the needs of the farmer?
There’s enough doubt when the reduction of budget finances still affects agriculture, already poor child, and therefore probably also the research. And when we see that in the agricultural intensification program: “Started in September 2007, the CIP program Focuses on six priority namelymaize crops, wheat, rice, Irish potato, beans and cassava” [xxxii], sweet potato, the banana and sorghum are missing from the list, doubt sets in immediately if RAB is oriented to tackle the needs of farmers. For, except at high altitudes, these crops with beans form the basis of the diet of the majority of Rwandans (pp 110-111) [xxxiii]. And it was even said in the Rwandan mythology, sorghum seed was among the King Rwandans brought in his handshake at birth!
For maize, declared as priority monoculture, many local papers highlight that its price is not remunerative and does not even cover the cost of inputs. Thus, the farmer works at a loss, and has no broad alternatives to meet the food needs of his family.
We reiterate that when we impose a culture, economic logic requires that the consumer has easy access to substitutes or substitute products that it does not produce or / and has at least one financial income allowing him buying supplements his diet. However, this does not seem to be the case currently.
Monoculture can be as agronomically dangerous, especially if done in succession without regard to crop rotation or fallow which is unlikely to Rwanda.
How the Ministry of Agriculture account does provide farmers with an adequate and continuous production without breaking the cycle of fungal diseases and pests that proliferate after successive monocultures of rice, potato, maize, cassava, etc. ? There is enough fear for the future.
The Romans said that we must feed the people and entertain for him not to rebel. If Rwanda wants to happen with these 85% of Rwandan farmers and live in peace with its 1.2000.000 inhabitants, the RPF government priority and two logical choices:
– Investing in agriculture to make the development of the engine and increase the food and income of rural farmers and breeders [xxxviii]
– Develop simultaneously the other economic sectors to create employment in order to disgorge agriculture.