Rwanda, a small rural country situated in the Great Lakes region, is very densely populated. It experienced the worst African genocide in 1994, fuelled by an unequal relationship between the dominant Tutsi minority and Hutu majority.
About two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line. The agriculture sector represents a third of the GDP, employing over 80% of the working population. Agricultural commodities like coffee and tea represent a large share of export revenues. The return of displaced persons and rapid demographic growth has led to the overexploitation of land, serious soil erosion and a rapid decline in soil fertility.
Rwanda seeks to transform its economy from a low-income agriculture-based to a knowledge-based, service-oriented model by 2020. Reducing its dependence on foreign aid (40% of the national budget), Rwanda has become a good place to do business.
Rwanda's climate is conditioned by its topography: at lower altitude, in Kagera piedmont (East), rainfall is the lowest (850 to 1,000 mm/year). Further to the West, altitude and rainfall rise, then land slopes down to the Kivu lakeshore which has less rain. Called the land of a thousand hills, a lot of farmers cultivate on sloping lands (Bart 1993). There are two growing seasons, with usually diversified crop systems with legumes (bean) and cereals like sorghum and maize, as well as cassava and banana being among the major staple foods. Climate change may threaten cash crops like tea and coffee.