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Principal Food Crops in Rwanda
The staple crop in Rwanda is bananas. The plants produce high yields over many years and produce year round. Thus bananas are the best guarantee against famine if other crops fail. The bananas are used in every form imaginable--raw, fried, and baked. Even a type of beer is made from fermented banana pulp. Other important crops are sweet potatoes, peas and beans, cassava melons, and sorghum (a type of cereal grain). Such crops as wheat, rice, and peanuts are raised only in small amounts.

Most farmers supplement their crops by raising cattle. Unfortunately, because of many parasitic diseases, such as tapeworms, East Coast fever, and nagana (the bovine version of sleeping sickness), the cattle are frequently of low commercial or food value, due to limited milk production and high death rates among calves. Cattle, however, are status symbols among the Hutu and Tutsi, so they are raised extensively, even though they take up a lot of pasture land that could be more efficiently used for agriculture. Cattle also significantly increase the erosion of precious soils on the steep hillsides where they graze and move about.

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