During the precolonial era, cattle and land dominated the Rwandan kingdoms’ subsistence-based socioeconomic activities and determined subjects’ mobility between stratified social classes. Loss of land and cattle resulted in a descent into poverty and a decline in status. However, a mixed economy of pastoralism and agricultural production eventually mitigated the uncertain economic conditions.

The 1994 genocide, in which between 800,000 and 1 million people were killed, decimated Rwanda’s economy, leaving an impoverished population internally displaced or exiled. Basic infrastructure, water supply, electricity, and communication networks were dismantled. Swaths of land were left with nothing but deserted homesteads and neglected harvests after residents’ property had been looted. Drawing significantly on a subsistence economy, Rwanda’s most abundant source of survival, the agriculture sector, became dysfunctional because of the ...

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