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International Journal of Biodiversity
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 401938, 10 pages
Research Article

Decline of Indigenous Crop Diversity in Colonial and Postcolonial Rwanda

College of Science and Technology, University of Rwanda, Huye Campus, P.O. Box 117, Butare, Rwanda

Received 18 July 2013; Revised 28 September 2013; Accepted 30 September 2013

Academic Editor: Arianna Azzellino

Copyright © 2013 Jean Leonard Seburanga. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Global influence of the wealthiest countries drives trends in crop diversity in the developing countries. In many countries, European colonization resulted in cultural disintegration and erosion of indigenous knowledge that made citizens lose interest in their own cultural heritage and adopt imperial know-how. During the same time, native biodiversity that was once maintained by the tradition it shaped declined. Alien crops prospered and finally dominated landscapes. In this paper, I looked at the apparent decline of indigenous crop diversity in Rwanda in the light of the “cultural disturbance” that occurred in the shadow of the European colonization. An integrated research methodology that combined desk-based, socioeconomic, and vegetation surveys was used. Indigenous crops now on the fringe of extinction and, thus, requiring immediate attention from conservation policy makers and managers were identified. These include Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp. “inkoli” (Leguminosae), Coleus dysentericus Bak. “impombo” (Labiatae), Dioscorea alata Linn. “ibikoro” (Araceae), a sweet cultivar of Lagenaria siceraria (Mol.) Standl. “bunure” (Cucurbitaceae), white cultivar of Sorghum bicolor (Linn.) Moench “nyiragikori” (Gramineae), Amaranthus graecizans Linn. “inyabutongo” (Amaranthaceae), Eleusine coracana (Linn.) Gaertn. “uburo” (Gramineae), and traditional cultivars of Zea mays Linn. “nyakagori” (Gramineae) and Solanum tuberosum Linn. “kandore” (Solanaceae).