SÉRAPHINE MURAGIJEMARIYA, WALTER SCHUG
University of Bonn, Institute for Agricultural Policy, Market Research and Economic Sociology, Germany
Allowing for equal opportunities of women and men is an important priority of development projects. In developing countries, the contribution of women to food production and development of the whole agricultural sector is very significant. Several studies conducted in the middle of the eighties showed that approximately 98% of rural women classified as economically active were engaged in agriculture. However, women have been underprivileged by their tradition in many developing countries and their role has been underestimated. It took a long time until agricultural policies and programs responded to inequality between men and women concerning the access to and control on productive factors.
Rwanda is classified as an over-populated small country in central Africa with a population of more than 8 million inhabitants and a total area of 26,338 km2. Due to demographic pressure on farmland, this country has a quantitative and qualitative deficit in food supply since the middle of the eighties. The situation deteriorated through the civil war in 1994. Although the war led to a predominance of women in most of economical sectors, especially in agriculture, the Rwandese tradition has disadvantaged women and emphasised the superiority of men. This led to a crucial inequality in the distribution of production factors, of land in particular. In all agricultural activities, women had to address themselves to decisions of men. This made it difficult for women to initiate potential innovations in agriculture.
The principal purposes of the investigations are the analysis of the food situation in Rwanda according to population growth and agricultural production, and the evaluation of the achievements of Rwandese women as new heads of agricultural production units. Interviews, group discussions with the agricultural population and expert interviews with different organisations were conducted in co-operation with the CSC (Centre de Services aux Copératives de Gitarama). The primary results show that Rwanda still has possibilities to increase agricultural production (through irrigation, resettlement, crop regionalisation, improvement of market system etc). Since the civil war in 1994, when women got advice on new technologies, they use them more effectively than men.
Keywords: Agroproduction and population growth, cooperatives, land scarcity, food security, Rwanda, women, new agricultural technology