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Characterisation of farming systems in southern Rwanda

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par Alain Kalisa
Université nationale du Rwanda - ingenieur Agronome (bachelor degree) 2007

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To the almighty God

To our dear families


This dissertation could not have finished without the support we received from different persons and the National University of Rwanda; we would like to express our sincere thanks to all those people.

We highly appreciate the invaluable guidance offered to us by supervisor Ir Charles BUCAGU Msc, his constrictive instructions and suggestions provided a basis of the completion of this work.

Warm thanks go to the authorities of the faculty of agriculture and all lectures for their intelligent and useful advice they rendered to me.

Our thanks go to our colleagues who have always been there during our studies and in research processes.

We would like to thank our parents who have sacrificed their meager income to educate us.

Thank you very much.



Farmers' resource management strategies affect strongly on farm activities and are also basic determinant of farmers' soil fertility status; however those strategies are also in relation with farmers' wealth status. Causes of variability in soil fertility management at different scale of analysis are both biophysical and socio-economic. Such heterogeneity is categorized in this study which interest was to analyze the functioning of different farming systems by establishing their major characteristics and estimating the level of nutrient at farm and plots scales in Shanga cell located in plateau central agroecological zone. For the assessment of socio-economic factors, we used questionnaires during the survey and in order to determine the variation from one plot to another, a soil analysis was done. Three wealth groups were identified using socio-economic information and considering production activities, household objectives and the main constraints faced by farmers. Soil fertility management and nutrient resource flows were studied for each wealth category and related to differences in soil fertility status at farm scale. The first category is the well-off farmer who owned more than 2 cows, 1000 or more coffee trees plus 1ha or more of land and other resource allocation. Second category of intermediate farmer has less than 2 cows, coffee trees between 200 and 500 and less than one hectare of land. They have normally enough food for their family and sometimes surplus for markets. Poor farmer is the last category that has or not animal, 100 trees of coffee and own a small farm less than 0.5 ha. Soil analysis result confirms that there is strong soil fertility gradient across farms and between farms selected from different wealth farmer categories in the order: (well off farmer > intermediate> poor farmer) and within farm; closest field more fertile than mid field and the later field more fertile than the remote fields. The variability of nutrients in farm or in wealth categories is caused by differences in resource allocation strategies.

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