International observers have lauded Rwanda as an example of an African country that has taken control of its own development trajectory, and thus as a market-friendly destination for investment. A key component of this has been an ambitious program of agricultural reform, involving private firms, NGOs, and international charities. The Rwandan government claims these reforms have been a resounding success, tripling crop yields and helping to combat hunger. But, as Chris Huggins argues, Rwanda’s liberal, modern image sits poorly beside the regime’s continuing authoritarian tendencies.
Featuring in-depth case studies of the effects of agricultural reform in three different regions, and drawing on hundreds of interviews, Huggins shows that the much-vaunted liberalization of agriculture has, in fact, depended on the coercion of Rwandan farmers, and in many cases has had a detrimental impact on their livelihoods. With the Kagame regime now coming under increasing international scrutiny, this work provides a timely look at the impact of this contradictory market-friendly authoritarianism in contemporary Africa, which will be of interest to students and scholars of development in the fields of sociology, anthropology, political science, and economics.