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Planning and costing adaptation of perennial crop systems to climate change: Coffee and banana in Rwanda

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The Rwandan economy is mainly based on agriculture. Since agricultural production in Rwanda depends almost exclusively on the quality of the rainy season and specific temperature ranges, it makes the country particularly vulnerable to climate variability and change.

The study objective of evaluating and costing the most suitable climate change adaptation measures for this geographic context responds to the Rwandan Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy, 2008-2012 (EDPRS) (MINECOFIN 2007), in which climate change and its adverse impacts were recently identified as a high priority.

This study has particularly focused on coffee and banana farming systems and aimed at analysing shocks due to climate change from farmer to policymaker perspectives. The study found that in the last 30 years, Rwanda has experienced a series of climate fluctuations in terms of frequency, intensity, and persistence of existing extremes. Heavy rains, storms, heatwaves and droughts are the observed manifestations of climate change in specific areas of Rwanda. Changing weather patterns have an adverse impact on the country’s agricultural production and thus on the country’s GDP.

Adaptation options for Rwanda include the following efficiency-enhancing agricultural interventions:

1.Adaption of crop calendars to new climate patterns (more effective distribution of inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides).
2.Investments in farming equipment.
3.Improvement of extension services and research.
4.Restructuring of the institutional frameworks and development plans.

Integrated water resources management (IWRM); setting up information systems for early warning systems and rapid intervention mechanisms; intense agri-pastoral activities; and research on climate-resilient varieties were identified as primary requirements for agricultural adaption to climate change. In addition, developing alternative energy sources (e.g., substituting firewood) and the promotion of non-agricultural income-generating activities were identified as the main climate change adaptation strategies not directly related to the agricultural sector.

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