Dutch investors explore horticulture sector potential

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Dutch investors during their visit to the National Agricultural Export Development Board offices. (Courtesy)

Seven visiting Dutch companies have expressed interest to invest in Rwanda’s horticulture sector.

The investors were in the country for a two-day visit to explore investment opportunities in the horticulture sector including the flower industry.

They are seeking strong partnerships and collaboration to help boost the industry, according to Marjolijn Sonnema, Netherland’s Vice Minister in charge of Agriculture and Economic Affairs.

The delegation paid a courtesy visit to the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) to further understand the sector’s potential in terms of trade and investment.

“We are looking for possible areas of collaboration between the Netherlands and Rwanda in horticulture sector; we believe we can share our expertise with local investors and see how we can further transform    the sector to increase its contribution to the national economy,” Sonnema noted.

Export receipts from the horticulture sector increased to $7.3million during the first 10 months of 2016 up from $5.7million earned same period 2015.

The Netherlands has expertise in the area of extraction from plant materials which can provide opportunities for innovation and business development in Rwanda’s horticulture sector.

As part of export promotion and diversification, Rwanda wants to more than double its flower exports by the end of 2016.

The country is counting on horticulture projects including the national flagship project Gishari Flower Park project and Bellow flowers in Rwamagana District to boost the sector. The idea is to be able to increase flower production to at least 44,000 tonnes per annum that can generate export receipts of up to $140million by 2020.

NAEB is currently mapping land that is suitable for horticulture as it seeks more investors. The agency is targeting a total of 2,000 hectares that will be dedicated to export-oriented production by 2018.

Overall, the flower industry in Rwanda has been growing at a low rate of about 5 per cent over the past one or so years in terms of increased areas under flower production.

Floriculture was identified by government as a sector that could quickly improve export revenue.

The flower sector was projected to bring in about $220 million (Rwf166.1 billion) by 2017, according to NAEB’s Rwanda Floriculture Development report for 2013. Therefore, the entry of more investors will be a boost to the country’s export industry as government tries to find ways of reducing trade deficit.

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