Rwanda is one of the smallest and most densely populated countries within Africa. Approximately 80 percent of the population is engaged in the agricultural sector, most of which are smallholder farmers cultivating on less than one hectare. Unlike Malawi and Tanzania, Rwanda benefits from two rainy seasons, allowing farmers two growing seasons. However, much of the land is hilly and highly susceptible to erosion. CDI is active in the Eastern Province of Rwanda, currently in Kirehe, Gatsibo, and Kayonza. The Eastern Province has a total population of more than 2.6 million people, with a density of 264 people per square kilometer. CDI works with commercial partners, development partners, and the government to improve soil fertility and maximize land productivity and profitability.
The Rwandan government's agricultural intensification strategy to feed the country involves land plot consolidation, typically in the marshlands, with the addition of value through large-scale commercial irrigation. Generally, the addition of irrigation adds a third harvest, expanding agricultural opportunities for both smallholder and commercial farmers.
CDI is working with the government and Rwandan cooperatives to identify commercial lands to manage.
CDI focuses its smallholder outreach operations in Rwanda's Eastern Province—in the Kirehe, Gatsibo, and Kayonza districts—where they have an established network of field officers, government agricultural workers, and more than 35,000 farmers benefiting from agricultural extension services during the 2016-2017 seasons. CDI's work will focus on the effectiveness of its farmer extension programs. The core focus of these programs will be on integrated soil fertility management, predominantly for a soy-maize rotation; access to quality and reliable seeds, inputs and input finance; climate resilience and erosion control; and working directly with large buyers to secure the best price. The Clinton Hunter Development Initiative (CHDI), which is a partnership between the Clinton Foundation and The Hunter Foundation of Scotland, established and operates the agroprocessing business Mount Meru Soyco LTD. Soyco, which produces cooking oil for the local Rwandan market, provides a market opportunity for CDI smallholder farmers.
In 2016, CDI’s smallholder outreach program established 660 demonstration plots, showcasing agricultural best practices. In the 2016-2017 season, 60 hectares are being utilized for seed multiplication, which will produce enough seed for 6,000 farmers.