IDS Bulletin Vol. 27 Nos. 3

Agricultural Rehabilitation and Food Insecurity in Post?war Rwanda:

Published on 1 July 1996

Summaries Early comments on the impact of the conflict on Rwanda’s food production capacity claimed that the loss of harvests and seeds was virtually total. Almost instantaneously, it was revealed that a solution existed: the ‘Seeds of Hope’ programme, a long?term international solution proposed by CGIAR through which crop production and biodiversity would be quickly restored. The restoration would prove far less expensive than long?term dependency on food aid. This article critiques the portrayal of Rwanda’s agricultural devastation and offers an alternative reading. Based on research carried out on behalf of Save The Children, UK, it presents a more nuanced picture of the food and agricultural situation in the immediate aftermath of the 1994 war and genocide. This alternative reading highlights determinants of food availability overlooked in the popular portrayal of starvation and ecological calamity. Attention is paid to ecological variations within Rwanda, the differential impact caused by war and internal flight, farmer resourcefulness, and the ‘longevity’ of certain field crops not harvested on time. Immediately following the end of war, the international community failed to appreciate the diversity of conditions inside Rwanda’s food production sector. Available seed supplies were never investigated, nor was the differential impact the war had had on and within Rwanda’s prefectures understood. This lack of a proper needs assessment enabled the international aid world to ‘package’ Rwanda as a country whose devastated agriculture could not recover without the kind of technical, apolitical intervention the West (CGIAR) had in mind. With media assistance, CGIAR persisted with its narrative for several months despite the emergence of clear counter evidence.

Cite this publication

Pottier, J. (1996) Agricultural Rehabilitation and Food Insecurity in Post?war Rwanda: . IDS Bulletin 27(3): 56-75

Publication details

published by
Institute of Development Studies
Pottier, Johan


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