Agricultural Mechanization Strategies for Rwanda Shifting from Subsistence Agriculture to Market-oriented Agriculture

"Farming in Rwanda remains largely subsistence in nature. With a rapid increase in food population, the pressure on ensuring food security is a constant challenge for the stakeholders. Significant progress has been made in Rwanda in the past decade with regard to over all agricultural production. However, operational efficiency and farm productivity, and, therefore, the prosperity of a very large proportion of the rural population, continue to be a concern. As the share of service sector on national economy grows larger, the government seeks to transform farming into a productive, high value, market oriented sector by modernizing 50% of its agriculture by 2020, and thereby improve livelihoods of rural population, achieve food security and increase exports of agricultural products as reflected in the millennium development goals (MDG) and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Food security shall be enhanced by improving crop productivity and by enhancing area under cultivation of food crops. The major limitation on the already cultivated area is the heavy reliance on the hand hoe used by the human labor. Women workers contribute 77% of those field operations that are carried out by farm families in Rwanda. Increase in labor productivity shall not only increase the overall productivity, but also quickly make the hitherto uncultivated lands available for cultivation. Experience from Asia, Latin America and in some African countries show that labor productivity shall be greatly enhanced by using alternate farm powers such as motorized engines and draught animals. Mechanization, along with other farm inputs such as fertilizers, improved seeds and pesticides, can significantly improve agricultural productivity in Rwanda. Mechanization is a powerful tool in achieving sustainable agricultural production because it enhances human capacity with the potential beneficiaries being men and women farmers."