1. Major Institutions providing extension/advisory services in the country
Prior to 1994, the extension system in Rwanda was dominated by the government through the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI) using a top-down approach that included the Training and Visit (T&V) extension model introduced by the World Bank. After the 1994 genocide, both national and international NGOs began organizing farmers in groups and associations and providing them with extension advices and services. Most of these NGOs worked in isolation with little or no coordination or sharing of information among them. In order to revamp extension and provide adequate linkages between research, extensions and the various actors in the sector, MINAGRI undertook a restructuring that lead to the creation of Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) and the National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB). The recent decision by the Government of Rwanda to decentralize agricultural extension activities to the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC) aims at addressing efficiently specific needs of farm households within each district. This move along with a redeployment of staff especially Subject Matter Specialists (SMSs) should strengthen extension and enhance its role by positioning staff closer to the population they are intended to serve. The current public Agricultural Extension including MINAGRI at National/Zonal level and MINALOC at the District, Sector and cell level operate through offices in 30 Districts, 416 Sectors, 1,500 Cells and 14,876 Village. The widely accepted notion that extension should be provided through a pluralistic system that include the public sector, international and local NGOs, as well as the private sector fit well with the Government new extension strategy. The public and private sector as well as local and international NGOs in Rwanda are actively involved in providing extension advisory services to Rwanda farmers across all14,876 villages.
At the national level, Rwanda public extension comprises 1244 staff members and is managed by a team of 92 senior staff according to the MEAS report (2011). Only one staff member has a Master of Science degree and the rest of the team studied at the bachelor level. Women account for 36% of senior management staff. There are 175 subject matter specialists to provide backsopping support to the field staff, none of them has a graduate degree and 23% of which are female. Field level extension workers constitute the bulk of staff (78%), with 87 % of them holding a 2 to 3 year agricultural diploma or less, and less than 30% are female. There are two other groups of workers: Information, Communication & Technology (ICT) Support Staff and In-Service Training Staff. Although the public sector does not employ in-service training staff, 3 workers are involved in ICT support services (Table 1).
Table 1: Human Resources in the Public Extension Service in Rwanda (Government and Ministry of Agriculture -based Extension Organizations)
Source: IFPRI/FAO/IICA Worldwide Extension Study, 2011
The public sector is represented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, the Ministry of Local Government, the National University of Rwanda, other universities and research institutions, and Agricultural and Veterinary Schools around the country. These institutions provide extension services through various departments and institutes some of which are listed below:
Public Extension Institutions
Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) www.minagri.gov.rw
Rwanda Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) www.rada.gov.rw
Rwanda Animal Resources Development Authority (RARDA) www.rarda.gov.rw
Rwanda Horticulture Development Authority (RHODA) www.rhoda.gov.rw
Rwanda Agricultural Research Institute (ISAR) www.isar.gov.rw
Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC) www.minaloc.gov.rw
Department of Regional Development, Research and Extension (DRDRE)
Public Research and Education Institutions
Higher Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry (ISAE)
Faculty of Agriculture and Rural Development
Faculty of Agricultural Engineering and Environmental Sciences
Institute of Agriculture, Technology and Education of Kibuko (INATEK)
Faculty of Education
Faculty of Rural Development
National University of Rwanda (NUR)
Faculty of Agriculture
Faculty of Agriculture
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
Faculty of Agriculture
Faculty of Technology and ICT
Faculty of Business Studies
AYEVE Kabatare Agricultural and Veterinary School
Private Sector Firms
Rwanda’s Private Sector is particularly vulnerable because of the country’s history and its mostly rural nature. The private sector generally focuses on cash crops and income, and addresses farmer households with strong market links. Below is a short list of some private sector firms that conduct business with farmers:
Non-Governmental Organizations and other Donors
There are two basic types of INGOs active in agriculture in Rwanda. These are the multi-sector, mega-INGOs such as CARE, AFRICARE, World Vision International (WVI) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the more Agriculture-Focused INGOs such as Land O’Lakes, TechnoServe and Heifer Project International. Amongst the Mega INGOs, agriculture tends to not be a priority sector and is often included in an integrated livelihood or food security program that also includes health, water & sanitation, microfinance and education.
International Organizations and Donors
Belgian Development Agency (BTC Rwanda)
CIALCA Biodiversity, IITA, CIAT-TSBF
Dairy Development Project (DDP), Land O’Lakes
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)
ECABREN (Bean Research Network), CIAT
PRAPACE (Potato Research Network), CIP
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
RWARRI (Rwanda Rural Rehabilitation Initiative)
UGAM/Centre de Service aux Cooperatives
Farmer Based Organizations and Cooperatives
Farmers have the tradition of organizing themselves at local level into membership-based entities (associations, cooperatives). They mainly organize around common interest like agricultural production to pool their resources together and facilitate access to credit and farm inputs. Whether formal or informal, these farmers’ organizations have always played a role in the relationships between the state and rural society, though over time their roles have changed considerably. Many of the farmers’ association in Rwanda today were created mainly to benefit from assistance of NGOs. Nevertheless, private or state-own enterprises trading commodities such as tea and pyrethrum have gained extensive experience with organizing producers into associations to manage supply operations within the commodity chain. Below is a list of some commodity-based or community-based Organizations in Rwanda
KAIGA cooperative (Irish Potatoes growers)
COAMVU cooperative (Maize growers)
MURUGO Cooperative (Livestock)
Nyiramageni cooperative (Rice production)
Impuhwe Z’Imana Women cooperative
Koakaka Cooperative (Café, Karaba)
Abatangan Farmers Group – Gitarama
Young Women Christian Association
2. Enabling (or Disabling) Environment.
The restructuring of MINAGRI leading to the creation of Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) and the National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB), and the decentralization of agricultural extension activities to the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC) pose serious challenges to the effective implementation and coordination of agricultural extension programs in Rwanda. The missing links and weak connections between research, extension and farmers could further add to the many obstacles MINALOC need to overcome. Fortunately, the country has nearly all the needed elements to increase agricultural productivity and reduce rural poverty if the various elements are brought into proper alignment with each other. A dynamic private sector as well as NGOs is already actively involved alongside the public sector in technology transfer, supply of input and funding of many projects. The changing extension landscape is characterized by the introduction and testing of a variety of different extension models. The ICT department presents itself as a well prepared partner to boast the work of MINALOC by providing the necessary tools to facilitate the flow of information and services from research institutions to extension workers, and to farmers. Strengthening Research – Extension Linkages, as well as linking RAB with MINALOC extension workers, especially at the sector level is what the Government of Rwanda needs to do to effectively serve its farmers.
3. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Agriculture and Extension
In Rwanda, different socio-economic groups within the society will have access to different types of ICT devices and services. For this reason, a multi-layered-approach to the pluralistic extension system is to be taken such that no farmer/producer is left behind. In response to this, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology has put in place a foundation framework for a robust ICT infrastructure to build upon to strengthen the delivery of Extension services. Several ICT tools commonly used in other African countries and different parts of the world are found in Rwanda today. For instance, sms-capable cell phones have become the “everyman computer” for the average citizen in Rwanda. With mobile phone branching out beyond its origins as primarily voice-only device to be use for other services such as banking (paying bills, sending money, paying school fees), the technology could play a key role in extension services and information delivery. Other recent innovations include a MINAGRI sponsored service e-Soko that provide current market price information to farmers and others in the food chain in all common crops in over 50 markets in the country. The Agricultural Information and Communication Centre (CICA) that is responsible for collecting, producing, processing, adapting, storing, sharing and disseminating agricultural information relies on ICT tools such as AMIS (The Information Gateway of the Agricultural and Livestock Sector of Rwanda), the MINAGRI Website, esoko and the Library web. Adoption of these technologies and many others (ForgetMeNotAfrica, MarketMaker from University of Illinois) underscores the potential for ICT development to open up frame-changing advances in agricultural extension education.
4. Training for Extension Professionals
There is apparently no proper training for extension staff at the many institutions in charge of agricultural development in Rwanda. Current personnel taking on extension services are trained to work as general agricultural practitioners also known as agronomists. Since universities only offer training in specialized agricultural fields like: crop production; horticulture; agro-forestry; animal production; veterinary medicine; soil science; soil and water management; irrigation and drainage management; agricultural mechanization; agricultural economics; agribusiness, there is a need for a new class of agricultural workers with proper training in agricultural extension methods and skills.
With regard to In-service training, MINALOC lacks the resources to provide such training. The new chain of command resulting from the redeployment of agricultural staff under MINALOC from MINAGRI makes it difficult for the latter institution to provide expertise and resources to accomplish this need. The MEAS report noted that there is no systematic training for district and sector agronomists to enable them provide advisory services across the board. These gaps need to be address under the pluralistic extension system approach been implemented.
5. Statistical Indicators
Swanson, B., J. Mutimba, P. Adedze, and O. Hixson. 2011. Comprehensive Assessment of Extension Services in Rwanda. Report on the MEA Rapid Scoping Mission. Final Draft Submitted to USAID/Liberia, September 11, 2011. www.meas-extension.or
CTA/GTZ.2009. Awareness Creation and training In the CFSME extension system in Kibuye, Rwanda. In Handbook: Rural Extension Volume 2: Examples and Background Material. 3rd Edition. Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Farmers’ Organizations and Agricultural Innovation. 2006. In Bertus Wennink and Willem Heemskerk (Ed.). Case studies from Benin, Rwanda and Tanzania. Bulletin 37. Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) – Amsterdam KIT Development, Policy and Practice. Amsterdam The Netherlands, KIT Publishers. Retrieved on November 1, 2011 from http://www.kit.nl/net/KIT_Publicaties_output/ShowFile2.aspx?e=908
Hakizimana, P. 2007. Rwanda agricultural extension services system: Operation and funding modalities. Paper presented at UN-ECA EA-SRO, 11th Session of Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE) Meeting, Bujumbura, Burundi, from 16 to 19 April 2007. Retrieved on November 1, 2011 from http://www.rada.gov.rw/IMG/pdf/UN-ECA_extension_paper.pdf
Republic Of Rwanda, Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources. 2009. Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture in Rwanda – Phase II (PSTA II). Final Report, February 2009. Retrieved on November 1, 2011 from http://www.gafspfund.org/gafsp/sites/gafspfund.org/files/Documents/Rwanda_StrategicPlan.pdf
Swanson, B. J. Mutimba, T. Remington, and P. Adedze. 2011. A Comprehensive Assessment of Extension Services in Rwanda. In Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services (MEAS) Project. Report prepared for USAID, September 2011. Retrieved on November 1, 2011 from http://www.meas-extension.org/meas-offers/country_studies/country-overview/rwanda