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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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The main purpose of this work was to analyze the functioning of different farming systems by establishing their major characteristics and estimating the level of nutrients at farm and plot scales in Shanga taken as representative site in plateau central agro-ecological zone. In this region, priority is given to staple and cash crops. The most prevailing farming systems are mixed crop and livestock production systems, 54% of surveyed farmers have at least one goat at home. During this study, three types of farms were identified based on their socio-economic conditions, namely the well-off, middle and poor farmers.

Hypotheses formulated have been successfully tested. The diversity of farms and fields in smallholder farming systems exist due to the several factors, namely: (i) socio-economical factors; and (ii) management factors. Plots belonging to the same farm are managed differently. Plots near homestead where farmers allocate more nutrients are more fertile than those located far away and receiving little fertilizers. Also other factors such as labour are also limiting depending on the family size and wealth. Large differences in nutrient content in plot's soils on different farms are linked to resource endowment. Fertilizing farm fields far away from home requires labour and much physical efforts.

Based on the results of our study, the following recommendations can be made:

- Simple technologies that do not require lot of investment such as agroforestry practices, rotation systems including legume crops should be promoted to increase soil fertility on poor farms and training of farmers for use of these technologies should be promoted.

- Crop production level of farms belonging to different wealth categories should be

estimated. In order to evaluate average income of these farms and therefore

scenario for improvements can be formulated

- The framework used to characterize farming system combines both biophysical and socio-economical aspects and allow a comprehensive understanding of the functioning of a farm. It should be recommended for other areas of Rwanda so that options for improving productivity on an individual category of farms can be then designed.


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