Agricultural growth has averaged 4.2 percent over 2001-05, below the target for Poverty Reduction Strategy Phase (PRSP1) of 5.3 percent as envisaged by the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy EDPRS).
This is because there has been a considerable variability from year to year which is linked to climatic shocks. As a result imports of food items, particularly for the urban market have increased by 11.6 percent between 2003-05 while the annual percentage changes in consumer prices also increased.
Overall trends in productivity of food crops are positive, although productivity trends for key food security crops are more concerning. Productivity in the agricultural sector has been boosted by cereals, fruits and vegetables because . there has been a strong government focus on these areas. However, production of legumes, bananas, roots and tubers declined in terms of area cultivated.
However, across the country food security continues to be a serious concern in terms of production, access and nutrition. There has also been declining production of sweet potatoes, beans, banana and cassava, .the major crops in terms of consumption and calorific content for rural areas.
In 2002, Rwanda entered into food surplus for the first time in 8 years although results from Season A in 2003 and 2006 have shown that this can be reversed. Analysis of average per capita food intake (Kcal, and Protein and Lipids) shows that for the majority of Rwandans’, they are permanently in deficit for all these criteria. For children under 5 years of age: height for age has been increasing, the weight for height and weight for age have declined, indicating nutritional deficits.
Livestock production as well as numbers has increased by 60 percent over the last 5 years, reaching pre-1990 levels in 2003/2004: Quality and disease control have also significantly improved and production as a result has increased. Cattle numbers per head have increased by 43 percent, Goats 67 percent, Sheep 195 percent, Pigs 93 percent, poultry 44 percent and rabbits 67 percent.
Livestock products have increased but demand still outstrips supply, especially for milk and eggs which contributes to food insecurity (lipid and protein intake).
The increase in agricultural; production has also enhanced more revenue from exports of the leading crops grown in Rwanda.
Production of black tea increased by 12 percent from 14.4 tonnes in 2000 to 16.9 tonnes, exports increased 6 percent between 2002-05 and with improved quality of leaves export earnings remained almost constant due to price changes: although there was an 11 percent increase in the value of exports. Privatisation of tea sector has however been slower than anticipated.
Coffee production increased 16 percent from 2000-05 from 16.0 tonnes to 18.6 tonnes, with 2004 as a peak year of production (28.7 tonnes) when earnings from coffee exports overtook tea ($32.2 m). In 2005, although production fell 35%, export receipts were worth an additional 19% in value terms ($38.2m) and between 2004-05 Rwanda saw a 75% increase in the average price per Kg of Rwanda’s coffee from $1.19 in 2004 to $2.08 – mainly from fully washed coffee.
Quality has improved as well with standard coffee rising from 19.2 percent in 2000 to 45 percent in 2005; ordinary coffee decreased from 74.4% in 2000 to 49% in 2005 and the share of fully washed coffee increased from 0.1% to 6% over the same period.
Hides and skins: Production increased 60% and values of exports have also increased from $2.6 million to $4.7 million.
Pyrethrum: Production fell 24% and export value fell 39% although the price per Kg in US dollars managed to increase slightly. Processing and export limited by energy supply.
Horticulture: Production (flowers, fruits and vegetables) exported increased 2737% on average by 59 tonnes per week, mainly for regional markets. Export volumes from high value horticulture for international markets remain significantly lower, around 2.5 tonnes per week.
Given the changing trends however, agricultural growth rates remain highly variable and dependent on rainfall. This is compounded by poor marketing and transport infrastructure.
Land pressure due to high population densities, small, fragmented plots and a lack of intensive farming practices resulting in degradation of land and other natural resources have also affected the sector.
There is also the challenge of limited access to Agricultural Credit, still around 2-3% of the total lending transactions in the economy.
The sector budget was limited: Recurrent budget averaged 2.2 percent of the total GDP.
Decentralised service delivery (e.g. extension) was limited: Weak capacity to plan, budget and M&E at decentralised levels and limited service providers with weak capacities to act (NGO and Private).