Over the past 20 years, Rwanda has made remarkable progress and the country’s economy has been growing steadily at roughly eight percent since 2001. The agricultural sector plays a central role in Rwanda’s economy, accounting for 39 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), 80 percent of employment, and 90 percent of the country’s food needs.
Despite this impressive growth, significant challenges to agricultural productivity and market participation remain, including constraints on land availability for cultivation, degradation of the country’s soil and natural resource base, lack of access to agricultural inputs and mechanization, and recurring extreme climatic events. The performance of the agricultural sector is closely linked to Rwanda’s overall nutritional profile and undernutrition remains a pervasive problem, further impacting Rwanda’s economy. About 33% of children under five are malnourished. Stunting in children is attributed to food insecurity and poverty, inadequate feeding (poor complementary feeding practices) and inadequate environments.
The Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze activity is a five-year, $32.6 million USAID-funded activity that aims to sustainably increase smallholder farmers’ income, improve the nutritional status of women of reproductive age (15-49) and children under two, and increase the resilience of Rwanda’s agricultural and food systems to a changing climate.
Hinga Weze works through holistic interventions that target the interrelated issues of undernutrition, food insecurity, barriers to agricultural productivity, and other challenges. Specifically, the activity focuses on the sustainable intensification of Rwandan smallholder farming systems, with emphasis on climate-smart, nutrition-sensitive approaches and social behavior change to the production and consumption of five value chains including nutritious foods: high-iron beans, Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP), Irish potato, maize, and horticulture.
The activity will support over 733,000 smallholder farmers to sustainably enhance productivity, increase incomes to purchase nutritious foods and improve household nutrition outcomes in the following ten target districts: Gatsibo, Kayonza, Bugesera, Ngoma (Eastern Province); Nyabihu, Rutsiro, Ngororero, Nyamasheke, and Karongi (Western Province); and Nyamagabe (Southern Province).
- Increasing Sustainable Agricultural Productivity: Hinga Weze focuses on interventions that support an integrated systems approach to agriculture productivity and that follow the principles of sustainable land and water use, with particular attention to climate-smart technologies of relevance to Rwanda, facilitating the resilience of farming systems by improving water management, preventing soil erosion, and maximizing the effectiveness of input use.
- Expanding Farmers’ Access to Markets: In order to enhance farmers’ competitiveness and expand access to markets, Hinga Weze increases access to post-harvest equipment and facilities, market information, and credit and financial services.
- Improving Nutritional Outcome of Agriculture Interventions: Hinga Weze is focused on strengthening the link between agriculture and nutrition to improve the nutritional status of its communities and families.
The Hinga Weze consortium includes a diverse group of both international and local Rwandan partner organizations, including Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), the prime, Rwanda Development Organization (RDO) and Imbaraga Farmers’ Federation. The activity achieves results by promoting household and community-level behavior changes through cost-effective interventions and a systems approach that prioritizes collaboration with stakeholders from the government, private and civil society sectors and the community.
 NISR (2015) Rwanda Poverty Profile Report, 2013/14. National Institute of Statistics, Rwanda.
 Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (2013) Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture in Rwanda Phase III. Republic of Rwanda.
 Rwanda Demographic and Health survey 2020.