Pathways of crop and livestock intensification for Green Revolution in Africa: evidence from smallholder farmers in Rwanda

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sussex
Department Name: University of Sussex Business School


The proposed research engages with the debates about intensification and commercialisation of agriculture and the transformation of livelihoods of subsistence farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. The increasing and competing demands for food, water, and energy make agricultural intensification imperative for Africa. While intensification and commercialisation of both crop and livestock production are at the top of the agricultural agenda, the sustainable intensification agenda does not yet provide a clear answer as to how smallholder farmers can meet multiple livelihood demands sustainably.

The main findings of my PhD thesis demonstrated that the lack of connection between the long-standing policy objective of agricultural intensification and modernisation agenda of the Government and the rural realities faced by Rwandan farmers, critically undermined the alternative smallholder production systems and their potential development pathways. Therefore, the difference in the level of ambition for agricultural intensification and transformation and the ability of many smallholders to engage with this agenda, poses a significant challenge for policy efforts to develop and improve the rural economy and thus the livelihoods of millions of small-scale producers.

Building on from this research, I propose to use the 'knowledge systems approach' that is spearheaded by the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) to unpack the knowledge systems for sustainable development in East Africa. The knowledge systems approach is useful in revealing 'the interconnections between diverse actors, sectors, capabilities, processes and institutional arrangements that shape the way knowledge drives different societal outcomes' (Atela et al. 2019).

The promotion of green and business innovation as the solution to the agriculture sector in Rwanda is a case in point. The current government's policy agenda raises the question about how the knowledge production of the green revolution for Africa is framed, driven, exchanged and ultimately negotiated by state and non-state actors in the formal and informal sectors. Therefore, one of the critical activities of this fellowship is mapping the knowledge production landscape through stakeholder and informant consultation and roundtable dialogue. Once the types of knowledge production and users' linkages are identified, we will be able to understand the knowledge flows and trajectories that lead to particular decision-making processes. This finding, in turn, will help to locate bottlenecks within the flows of the knowledge system and also, to propose potential ways to close the gaps between policy objectives and rural realities of agricultural transformation of small-scale farming systems.


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