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Abstract

Since the mid 1990s, the Rwanda government supported the increase in the marketing of agricultural products and the agricultural productivity, which is a key strategy to raise incomes n rural areas and stimulate broad-based economic growth. Many analysts believe that a combination between organic and inorganic fertilizers constitutes the most important strategy for increasing land productivity. The purpose of this document is to inform the debate in identifying a realistic and inexpensive strategy that can increase the demand for fertilizer to support food production in Rwanda. The government implemented some reforms such as the elimination of taxes on fertilizer imports and limiting free or subsidized distributions of fertilizers to a restricted numbers of demonstration and emergency programs. These reforms allowed an increase in the number of fertilizer sellers and a stabilization of prices. The MINAGRI works along NGOs in doing several fertilizer demonstrations to identify specific crops and regions in which the use of fertilizer will be more profitable. The PDMAR [Projet de Développement des Marchés Agricoles et Ruraux au Rwanda] also did some fertilizer demonstrations but, unlike the MINAGRI, did not select its working regions based on profitability. The PDMAR worked in regions based on the regions’ ability to execute the project and it obtained better results than the MINAGRI. Rwanda made remarkable progress in moving from a system where government distributed all the fertilizer to a system that relies much more on the private sector. There is still a long way to go to turn Rwanda’s potential for using fertilizer more efficiently into higher rural incomes and GDP. The next steps in the ongoing institutional reforms involves balancing the actions between donor and government financing, the execution of the reforms by the private and public sectors, and the participation by central and local governments in these efforts.

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