Placing Rwanda’s agriculture boom: trust, women empowerment and policy impact in maize agricultural cooperatives


Rwanda has experienced significant economic growth following the 1994 Genocide. This growth is attributed to the expansion of its agricultural sector, specifically farming intensification and the government’s focus on creating strong agriculture cooperatives. While Rwanda’s economic development has been impressive, many academics have argued that Rwanda’s growth comes at the cost of an authoritarian governmental regime, whose policies have too heavy a hand in the daily activities of smallholder farming. This study measures smallholder maize farmer loyalty to their cooperatives using the net promoter scores of five different cooperatives. Results differ from much of the recent research on smallholder farmers in Rwanda in that most cooperative members have high levels of trust in their cooperative leaders. Cooperative members who have high levels of trust in their cooperative president, board and the Government of Rwanda are more likely to recommend their cooperative to friends and family. Furthermore, women cooperative members have higher levels of trust in cooperative leadership, the Government of Rwanda and almost all agricultural input providers mentioned in the study. Findings suggest that cooperative policy, most notably the mandatory inclusion of high numbers of women in cooperative decision-making, is helping to promote strong agricultural institutions as well as sustainable economic development.

Food Security
Elliot Meador PhD
Research Fellow

My research interests include community resilience, sustainable food systems and computational social science.