Rwanda has one of the highest population densities of any African country, together with steep slopes and high rainfall. Conservation, then, is not an abstraction ; it is central to continued farming. If land use is not compatible with erosion control and soil maintenance, Rwanda will not support itself.
Rwanda’s population continues to grow at the rate of 3.7% a year—an extremely high rate that will double the country’s population within 30 years. Population pressure continues to push agriculture onto marginal lands and is causing a rapid increase in slope and soil degradation.
FSDS will help Rwandan farmers to face this challenge. The quick answer is not enough even though farmers are cognizant of the problem, the selective placement of crops, woodlots, and pastures for the purposes of controlling soil loss is uncommon. The problem is that each family has to sustain itself on the land available. As farmers cultivate marginal areas and increasingly small plots, they cannot afford the luxury of woody crops and crops that serve to stabilize soils ; to feed their families they have to maximize their yields within any given growing season, which is incompatible with long-term stability.