Rigorous weather events, particularly droughts, have historically imposed heavy tolls on Rwanda’s food security. Climate change has exacerbated the issue of food insecurity not only in Rwanda.
According to a study published in 2019 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the total number of undernourished people in the world exceeds 820 million. This number, which decreased between 2010 and 2014, started to increase again in 2015. One of the influencing factors which led to this surge is climate change.
We were late with planting and, of course, it will affect our harvests.”
Kagina Ermogene is a specialised farmer of maize, in Burambi Village, in Rulindo District. With irregular weather patterns due to climate change, he has dealt with disappointing harvests.
“We grow maize and eggplants, but we don’t expect a good harvest because we planted them too late. We would have started growing these cereal grains and legumes at the beginning of January as usual, but the good conditions from the rain season came in mid-March this year. That is why we were late with planting and, of course, it will affect our harvests compared to the last two years, when we had favourable climates for growing plants.”
Farming is an essential source of income in Rwanda. About 70 percent of the population works in the agricultural sector. Another farmer, a woman from Ntarabana Sector, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “Last year we successfully harvested a lot of cereal grains, but today we are hopeless.
We have grown sorghum, and they are still small because they missed the favourable rain season. Last year I harvested 100 kilograms of beans, but this year I will not harvest even a half kilo.”
Rwanda’s current climate is subject to high levels of variability. This will increase with climate change, leading to a rise in climate hazards, which could affect economic growth and investment in poverty reduction, as indicated in a 2015 World Bank report.
Risk analysts Maplecroft categorise Rwanda as high risk in terms of climate change vulnerability, due to limited capacity to respond to disasters, high poverty rates and reliance on rainfed subsistence agriculture.
Mukamana Speciose, a legumes farmer, said that climate change affected their annual harvest and ultimately the food production. “We had our first day of rain on April 1. The beans we planted have dried up (because of the late rain).”
The beans we planted have dried up (because of the late rain).”
The government of Rwanda warned farmers about climate change and has initiated techniques within its seven-year agenda to overcome the challenges faced by farmers.
Musabyimana Jean Claude, Permanent Secretary in the Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, told The Niles: “The seven-year project includes the specific pillar of improving our agricultural procedures vis a vis climate change. This includes more measures to mitigate the effects of climate change, such as improved irrigation to maintain crop production during a drought and improved technology for more production. These are measures we will use as we know that climate change affects food production in Rwanda as well as in other countries.”