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Improving and expanding horticulture in Rwanda

An initiative has been launched in Rwanda to boost the country’s horticulture production, quality and exports

The Rwanda Horticulture Working Group (RHWG) has been launched by Rwanda’s National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) and horticulture sector stakeholders. The initiative also seeks to attract more private investments into horticulture industry, as well as to stimulate dialogue among stakeholders, said George William Kayonga, CEO of NAEB.

According to Kayonga, RHWG will provide a platform to promote more public-private sector partnerships to help expand the country’s horticultural sector. The initiative is also expected to play a key role in provision of advisory services, especially on best agricultural practices, post-harvest handling of fresh produce and marketing.

“This collaborative organisational structure will enhance dialogue and help find ways on how to make the sector more productive and ensure quality along the value chain, which is key to sustainable development of horticulture industry,” Kayonga said.

Wilhelmine Bora, chairperson of Professional Horticulture Farmers Association in Rwanda, said that empowering the private sector to effectively and efficiently engage in the volatile horticulture export market should be given top priority. Commenting on the high interest rates on bank loans, Bora said, “It is, therefore, important that the new platform also focuses on capacity building to enhance the skills of smallholder producers of export crops.”

NAEB says it is currently transforming a warehouse at its head offices into a horticulture pack-house where exporters can sort and package produce before it is exported. The board has also started mapping and profiling land that is suitable for horticulture for making available to horticulture investors next year. The target is to have at least 2,000 hectares dedicated to export-oriented production by 2018.

According to Rwanda’s National Export Strategy, the horticulture industry is expected to fetch more than US$129mn per year by 2018, a huge increase from the US$10mn now.