Nationally representative surveys regarding sources of income among agricultural households in Rwanda, fielded in 1990 and 2000, provide insights into how families responded to changes in their environment in a turbulent decade. Despite political upheavals and increasing land pressure, the survey evidence suggests that by 2000 average incomes returned to the 1990 level, while the nutritional status among rural children was better in 2000 than in the early 1990s. The nutrition improvement is tempered by evidence of increasing rural inequality. While the least poor households expanded their access to income through skilled labor, the majority of households retreated into a more autarkic mode of production focused on key subsistence crops. The change in crop mix seems to be associated with the improved the nutritional status of children. This has important implications for the current agricultural commercialization strategy in Rwanda and other countries where similar conditions prevail.


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