Local investors urged to help bridge the gap in horticulture

Flower bouquets at an exhibition. File.

The City of Kigali has rallied domestic investors to invest in horticulture farming to boost agri-exports which would help narrow the trade deficit that is a major bottleneck for the country’s economy.

The call was made Tuesday at the annual Kigali Investment Forum organised by the City of Kigali, the Rwanda Development Board, and the Private Sector Federation.

The forum provides an opportunity for the private sector to learn more about available investment opportunities and incentives in place for specific sectors.

Patricia Muhongerwa, the Vice Mayor in charge of Social Affairs, said that floriculture is ripe for investment saying that besides having ready market abroad, it is done on a small plot and yields in a short period of time.

“By investing in non-traditional and high value products, the horticulture sector, especially floriculture, was identified by government as a sector that could quickly improve the country’s export revenue. However, it remains one of the less exploited sectors. As domestic investors, we don’t want you to miss out on such great opportunity,” she argued.

She explained that, currently, roses are the only variety of flowers that are locally grown while there are other varieties, highly on demand that lack investors, such as summer flowers.

Rwanda has been proven to provide a conducive environment for summer flowers and a survey indicated that four districts; Musanze, Nyabihu, Rubavu and Rulindo are more conducive for the variety.

Summer flower varieties that can be grown in the country include Agapanthus blue & white, Tuberose, Erygium, White arum, Ornis(ornithogalum), Mollucella, Craspedia, Ami visnaga, Crocosmia, Arabicum, Buplerium and Carthamus, according to the National Agriculture Export Board.

On behalf of the RDB, Winifred Ngangure Kabega, the  head of Investment promotion at RDB, said that the demand for horticulture keeps growing which calls for more investment to serve unmet demand especially in Europe, North America, the Middle East and West Africa.

“Rwanda is well placed to serve growing global, regional and local demand for fruit, flowers and vegetables thanks to climate adaptability. We want our domestic investors to be the first to grab this opportunity and invest in production and marketing of horticulture products to boost and sustain foreign exchange growth and trade balance through export,” she argued.

According RDB, the government interventions will include giving farmers high quality varieties, fertilisers and nutrients, as well as equipping them with best farming practices to increase crop productivity and ensure constant supply.

The Chairperson of PSF in Kigali City, André Bitwayiki, said that as the private sector they are grateful to have such an opportunity to learn about new investment opportunities, which many would otherwise never be aware of.

He called for the private sector to seize the opportunity.

However, investors cited some challenges which still hamper their progress such as high interest rates on loan acquisition and poor service delivery at some one-stop-centres in the process of registering projects.

Overall, the floriculture industry in Rwanda has been growing at a low rate – about five per cent – over the past few years.

The flower sub-sector fetched over Rwf2 billion ($2.39 million) from exports in the first 11 months of 2017.

Over 391,690 kilogrammes of flowers were exported during the period, according to the latest report by National Agricultural and Export Board (NAEB).

Among other investment opportunities pitched at the Kigali Investment Forum are entertainment, manufacturing of construction materials, affordable housing, transport, business and hospitality services.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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