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Big meat enterprise planned in Rwanda

The Rwandan government is planning a project spread over 4,500,000 sq m aimed chiefly at beef production on a sustainable commercial basis

The proposed project is in line with the country’s goal of agricultural transformation, moving the Rwandan livestock sector from a largely subsistence status to a more market-oriented one.

In an interview with East African Business Week, Tony Nsanganira, Rwanda’s state minister for agriculture said, “The key output will be the growth of quality meat production for local consumption and for export.”

The project will also have ‘value addition activities including meat production, hides and skins and leather goods manufacturing for local and export markets’ that will be critical for viability of the project, he added.

The government is in talks with various private investors, both local and foreign, who are interested in the project, and will start work on it as soon as it reaches agreements with investors. As of now, Bugesera District in Eastern Province is being prepared and the government is creating infrastructure such as roads.

There is a growing demand for quality meat in Rwanda, triggered by an increasing number of expatriates and tourists and also by an evolving middle class with increased spending capacity. Among other sources, the meat is imported from Kenya and South Africa.

According to Nsanganira, Rwanda is geographically well placed to become the alternate source of high quality meat products for countries like DR Congo, Congo (Brazzaville) and Gabon who currently rely on exports from South Africa, Kenya and even as far as France.

The minister elaborated that the maximum number of animals that can be kept at the site in an environment-friendly way is about 70,000 bovines or 98,000 smaller animals like goats. The project, when fully operational, will provide employment to both skilled and unskilled labour, and will also improve prices for cattle and goat farmers who will have direct access to the market. At the same time, increased beef supply in the market is also likely to bring down beef prices for consumers.

An initial analysis has shown the project to have huge economic potential, with the type of cattle breeds and animal feeds being the critical success factors. Forage production, cattle production and fattening, goat production and fattening and the establishment of a state-of-the-art abattoir have been identified as the key investment areas.