Smallholder farmers across Rwanda are highly diverse, requiring a nuanced approach in providing assistance and support programs. Understanding this diversity may provide the first step in the development of tailored and targeted interventions for these farmers. Investigating farm and household diversity may also provide insights into the adoption of modernised and entrepreneurial agricultural activities across Rwanda.
Photo: 1AF farmers attending an compulsory field training before receiving their purchased seeds and fertilizers.
To better understand farm diversity across Rwanda, CIALCA continued its collaboration with One Acre Fund (1AF) (https://oneacrefund.org/), one of the largest agricultural NGOs in East Africa. 1AF deliver agricultural inputs and year-round extension services to more than 265,000 smallholder farmers in Rwanda. An improved understanding of farm diversity is hoped to allow 1AF to fine-tune their programs and ultimately increase their impacts.
Field agents from 1AF used a digital surveying tool (https://www.rhomis.org/) to collect data from more than 2,700 farming households. Most households were found to grow a diverse range of crops, earned limited cash incomes, experienced moderate levels of food security, and sold roughly a third of production. Using this information, ten distinct farm household typologies were identified, based upon six key characteristics (crops produced, cultivated area, marital status and education level of household head, livestock ownership, and perception of positive changes in farm characteristics).
From these typologies, four groups of farms were distinguishable through their engagement with crop modernisation practices (e.g. fertiliser and improved seed use): not engaged (13% of the population), slightly engaged but lacking information (26%), moderately engaged (46%), and highly engaged (15%). Initial analyses of entrepreneurial farming activities suggest a propensity for farmers who are more engaged with modern agricultural practices to be more entrepreneurially minded.
Members of the CIALCA consortium presented these results to 1AF this month, with a series a potential-options for continuing the collaboration and further assisting One Acre Fund in tailoring their programs and improving the understanding of the diversity held Rwandan agricultural households.