This study quantifies the potential responses of 11 staple crop yields to projected changes in temperature and precipitation in Rwanda, using a cross sectional model based on yield data collected across more than 14,000 villages. We incorporated a relatively high spatial resolution dataset on crop productivity, considered a broad range of crops relevant to national agricultural production priorities, used environmental data developed specifically for Rwanda, and reported uncertainty both from our estimation model and due to uncertainty in future climate projections. We estimate that future climate change will have the largest impacts on potential productivity of maize, bush bean, and Irish potato. All three crops are likely to experience a reduction in potential yields of at least 10% under Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 and at least 15% under RCP 8.5 by 2050. Notably, these are important crops nationally, and three of the crops targeted by Rwanda’s Crop Intensification Program. We find that the most severe reductions in potential crop yields will occur in the drier eastern savannah and plateau regions, but that the impacts of climate change could be neutral or even positive in the highlands through mid-century. The refined spatial scale of our analysis allows us to identify potentially vulnerable regions where adaptation investments may need to be prioritized to support food security and climate resilience in Rwanda’s agricultural sector.
Impacts of climate change on the potential productivity of eleven staple crops in Rwanda