Coffee farming and soil management in Rwanda

Nzeyimana, I.; Hartemink, A.E.; Graaff, J. de


Agriculture is the cornerstone of Rwanda's economy. The authors review how the sector has changed and specifically what soil management practices are now being implemented to enhance coffee production. Coffee covers around 2.3% of total cultivated arable land, and is grown mainly by smallholder farmers on plots of less than one hectare. Rwanda produces high-quality speciality or fully washed coffee, which is intercropped with annual crops due to land scarcity to enable farmers to achieve a better combination of food and cash crops. Most of the agricultural soils have a pH of <5.2 and are highly deficient in phosphorus. Reduced land fragmentation, increased organic and inorganic fertilizer applications and mulching are all needed to boost yields. These practices will also help to improve the soils' chemical and physical properties and control erosion on the steep cultivated slopes.