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Optimization of an Integrated Rabbit-Fish-Rice System for Sustainable Production in Rwanda

S Tabaro Rukera
O Mutanga
J.-C Micha


An innovative integrated agriculture-aquaculture (IAA) system, suitable for resource-poor rural farmers, was proposed and tried at the Rwasave fish farming and research station – National university of Rwanda (SPIR-NUR). The system’s components were rabbits, fish (Nile tilapia), and rice: the integrated rabbit–fish–rice (IRFR) system. The research aimed at contributing to Rwanda government’s goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, enhancing food security as well as abating environmental degradation. After a series of experiments consisting of the rearing of rabbits at various densities over fish ponds and the re-use of pond effluent to fertilise rice fields, the study revealed the following: rabbit adapted well in the conditions of wetlands, the density of 800 to 1200 rabbits per ha of ponds was found to be the optimum for sustaining the integrated system, and rabbit droppings contributed 27% N and 79% P of the total nutrient nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilizing input in fishponds, the major source being on-farm resources. The integrated system showed higher economic returns than both rice monoculture and rice-fish system. It was concluded from this study that the IRFR system works well and can be promoted for optimum resources use, better income generation, and environmental friendly productions.

Keywords: Integrated rabbit-fish-rice system; optimum density; resources and nutrients flow, resources-poor rural farmers, performance and profitability

Rwanda Journal, Volume 24 Series E 2011