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The dairy sub-sector of the agricultural sector in Rwanda is crucial for rural development, poverty reduction, nutrition improvement and food security. Dairy farmers in Rwanda have faced many challenges which affect their livelihood. The government of Rwanda (GoR), in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), recently set up the Rwanda Dairy Development Project (RDDP) as one of the projects to promote the development of the dairy industry.
The study was carried out with the aim of assessing the effects of farm ownership, access to credit and the Rwanda Dairy Development Project (RDDP) on the livelihood of dairy farmers in the Western Province of Rwanda and identifying the best practices in climate adaptation strategies outlined by the dairy farmers. The results show that dairy farmers who owned and operated their farms (self-owned) experienced an increase in income during the RDDP and more farmers have moved from renting and joint ownership of farms to solely owning farms due to them receiving cows from the project. Also, dairy farmers now have easy access to credit facilities for dairy business. Several benefits received from the RDDP (Training, Vaccinations, Semen, Artificial Insemination and Forage seeds) have helped the farmers to adopt better farming practices which have improved their monthly income. Climate change affects the diary farming business, however, the farmers have recognized some adaptation strategies for climate change.
Recommendations were given among which are that more dairy farmers should be encouraged to join cooperatives for easier access to credit and loan; more effort should go into sensitising the farmers about the RDDP and the benefits available and more training on climate-smart agriculture should continue; also that more information on climate change and its effects should be easily accessed by dairy farmers. The Rwanda Dairy Development Project (RDDP) has been of benefit to the dairy farmers in Rwanda while improving their livelihood.
Keywords: Livelihood, Dairy sub-sector, Intervention, Dairy farmers, Rwanda Dairy Development Project