This study examines trends in total and per capita food crop production, marketing and prices in Rwanda during the period 1970-1991. It gives special emphasis to dry beans. This study is also concerned with gaining more insights into rural household level dry bean transactions, and gaining a better understanding of the relative importance of rural bean imports through informal cross-border trade with Rwanda's neighboring countries. More specifically, the intent is to provide potential users and Rwandan policy makers with information on household dry bean transaction trends and other key market behavior indicators such as volume of bean sales, purchases, rural consumption and imports. Empirical analysis, using a national informal imports identity approach and data from the 1990 ENRD, leads to a major conclusion that Rwanda is increasingly a net importer of dry beans. It is also found that a large and growing majority (84%) of rural households are net purchasers of beans. Results of the analysis show also a decline in bean and overall calorie production on both per capita and total basis (from 8 major food crops studied) among households in the net buyer categories. Analysis undertaken to determine whether for a given household net sales position for one commodity are correlated with the net sales volume of other commodities shows relatively weak relationships at the national level, thus revealing some degree of specialization in sales. When analysis is conducted by selecting only households who are net sellers of beans, sweet potatoes or bananas and on agroclimatical zones basis, more insights are gained on the degree of specialization in sales at the household level. Bean production (coupled with overall food crop output) instability has led to year-to-year and monthly bean price fluctuations. This analysis tries to identify some of the factors responsible for such deviations from the typical seasonal pattern. Government officials and private sector managers involved in the bean subsector are under increasing pressure to adjust their policy decisions under different bean supply cenarios. This study provides potentially useful information about such issues and suggests possible public and private actions to be taken that could better facilitate the process of regional integration of dry bean markets in Rwanda and neighboring countries of Zaire, Uganda and Burundi.


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