Rwanda Impact Area:
Sustainable Land Use & Labour
Are you an agronomist or soil scientist? Economist? An expert on land governance or working in related public administration? An entrepreneur, researcher or environmental activist? Are you working with circular farming practices and promoting climate smart agriculture or erosion control measures? Are you knowledgeable about agricultural and rural labour markets and job creation? And are you captivated by the relationships between land and labour and sustainable food systems? We are looking for aspiring food systems leaders in Rwanda to help define and implement viable strategies of feeding its growing population sustainably while preserving its natural landscape and environmental integrity.
01. What is the current state of land and labour?
Rwanda's population is expected to peak at 16 million inhabitants by 2032, rising 2.7% annually (NISR). The growing population and land pressure in Rwanda will undoubtedly drive its land use change and labour mobility. Despite considerable effort to promote terracing, cropland expansion on steeper slopes has been considered the major culprit for soil erosion. Researchers estimate that millions of hectares of soil are lost annually due to deforestation – a frightening outlook for agricultural productivity. Relatively small average land holdings and increasing climate variability threaten livelihoods in agriculture. Despite being the major source of employment in the country, jobs in agriculture deceased from 88% in 2000 to 62% in 2019 (ILO). Off-farm employment opportunities in manufacturing and construction draw, in particular, youth to urban centres. Whilst business establishment rates are on the rise, job creation falls short in absorbing the growing working age population.
02. Is there hope?
Yes, there are many elements to work with that offer hope. Rwanda’s land policy reform promotes agri- business and encourages self-employment. Additionally, the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1), Strategic Plan for Agriculture Transformation (PSTA 4), and Gender and Youth Mainstreaming Strategy aim to create decent, inclusive and productive jobs, with agriculture as a target sector. Fellows could focus their efforts on unboxing the potential of sustainable agricultural practices and technologies, bolstering private investments in increasing agricultural productivity, and identifying opportunities for farmers to fulfil their aspirations by either stepping up or stepping out of agriculture.
03. What is the challenge to food systems leaders?
Systems leadership is required in determining pathways to tackle the complex challenges that constraints in land and labour pose to food systems transformation in Rwanda. The interrelatedness of constraints in land and labour calls for a systemic approach to providing technical and social solutions to these problems. Fellows will be challenged to combine coalition-building with systems insight to mobilize action across the country. Systems leaders will point at, direct and drive the organization needed.