About 25 cooperatives lack silk rearing houses. A single unit, costs about $4,000 (Rwf2.3 million) for one hectare of mulberry
Despite studies indicating that sericulture (the raising of silkworms in to obtain raw silk) has massive potential to earn more revenue than traditional earners like coffee, the agro-business activity is inadequately funded, the On-The-Frontier (OTF) Group report has said.
Leonard Mungarulire, a consultant with OTF an American based research group with office in Kigali, said that limited funding is one of the biggest challenges limiting the development of Rwanda’s silk industry.
“Government provides some support in terms of capacity building but the private sector hasn’t opened up fully to invest in rearing houses and other required equipments.”
He explained after the launch of the Rwanda silk cluster work group at Prime Holdings last week that some banks are ignorant about the industry’s potential and do not have agro-business units to support farmers.
“This is something we need to address, otherwise farmers are likely to move away from mulberry production,” he added.
The Rwanda silk cluster work group, comprising of sericulture stakeholders from different part of Rwanda, aims to free the potentials of the country’s silk industry.
Research indicates that about 25 cooperatives lack rearing houses (where silk worms are kept). A single unit, costs about $4,000 (Rwf2.3 million) for one hectare of mulberry.
It is therefore believed that without rapid rearing house investments, farmers are going to move away from mulberry production.
James Foster, also a consultant with OTF Group said that the gaps of investment can only be bridged by full participation of both the government and the private sector.
However, the Acting Director General of Entrepreneurial and Export Development in Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Pipien Hakizabera said that the whole value chain of silk industry has gaps.
“The gaps are not only financial but also technical knowledge in mulberry cultivation.”
The country has already been proven suitable for silk production. Last year alone, cocoon production generated about $19,000 (Rwf10.8 million) per annum from 283 hectares. Silk is one of the crops expected to diversify the country’s exports.
OTF Group says that Rwanda should seek for the rapid growth of Morocco’s silk cluster, which has grown from $14 million too $35 million over the last five years.
“A farmer can earn about Rwf1.5 million per year from silk cocoon per hectare.”