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FARMERS' KNOWLEDGE AND PERCEPTION OF AGRICULTURAL WETLAND MANAGEMENT IN RWANDA

Authors


Correspondence to: N. L. Nabahungu, Soil and Water Management, ISAR, PO Box 617, Huye, Rwanda.

E-mail: nabahungu@yahoo.com

ABSTRACT

Most of Rwanda's wetlands are being reclaimed under government schemes with the aim of growing rice as the main crop. In the present study, information on farmers' knowledge and perceptions of agricultural wetland management was collected in Cyabayaga and Rugeramigozi wetlands. The two wetlands were selected as representatives for typical reclaimed wetland agriculture in Rwanda. They provide contrasts in both environmental and social terms. Three tools were used to investigate farmers' knowledge and perception of agricultural wetland management: (i) household survey; (ii) focus group discussions; and (iii) transect walk. The major constraints identified by farmers in the two wetlands were water shortage and lack of availability of improved seeds and high prices of fertilisers. The primary benefits from wetlands for farmers are income generation in Cyabayaga and food security in Rugeramigozi. The most commonly reported concern about the wetlands in the Cyabayaga and Rugerameragozi was that they are a source of malaria. Rice is an important crop in both wetlands, whereas farmers in Cyabahaga wish to continue cultivating rice, Rugeramigozi farmers prefer to grow rice only after it has been tested for its adaptability. Farmers have sufficient knowledge on the causes and the potential solutions to overcome most constraints. They know that soil suitability is closely related to relief. They classify soils by a number of criteria and choose crops accordingly. Any programme designed to address wetland management in the region will have to take account of farmers' knowledge and adopt a holistic view of wetland management. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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