About 95 per cent of Rwandans work on their land in subsistence agriculture, growing crops for their use. The main crops are sorghum, maize, sweet potatoes, dry beans and plantains (green bananas). The average farm plot is getting smaller and is now less then 1 hectare.

Rwanda relies heavily on one main export crop, coffee. Other export crops include tea, sugar and pyrethrum (a natural insecticide). Most industries involve the processing of coffee or tea. The country has small deposits of tin, beryl (a precious stone), tungsten (a rare metal) and other minerals. Natural gas deposits beneath Lake Kivu are believed to be among the largest in the world, but these are just starting to be used. Rwanda's deteriorating roads, rugged terrain and distance from the sea make economic growth difficult.