The long procuremnet process could derail the $21.8m (about 14.4b) National Agricultural Exports Board’s (NAEB) cut roses demostration farm at Gishwati, Rwamagana in Kayonja district.
According to John Mwendia, the project officer, it is taking them over six months to procure items or services, which is too long for ventures like flower growing.
“If a ceratin disease breaks out, you have to make a decision immediately or risk having the whole farm being wiped out in a matter in days or weeks,” he explained in an interview at NAEB officess last week.
Mwendia said this was possible under the current long procurement process.
He noted that they were currently coping with the process because they were in the initial stages of setting up the farm.
He said although the initiative was intended to act as a model farm to attract local and international investors, it was going to be hard to sustain it under the current long tender process.
“We have not yet been affected badly because we are still buying capital equipment and related items. However, when we start flower production and there is an emergency, the project will be at the mercy of the long tendering process. It would be better if a project like this is treated as an exception,” Mwendia advised.
The demostration farm is being developed by NAEB under the build, own and transfer programme. This is where the government initiates a project and later sells whole or majority shares to a private firm to operate under the private-public partnership scheme. The same approach has been successfully used in the country’s tea sector.
Mwendia said that so far, two hectare greenhouses have been erected at the Gishwate demo farm and power installed.
The first phase will have 10 hectares, with the size expanding to 20 hectares in the second phase, then 100 hectares and hit 650 hectares by 2017, the project expert said.
EMMR is developing the project and has so far completed 12 per cent of the work, Mwendia said. About Rwf2b irrigation and spray systems, cold rooms and planting materials would be provided.
Mwendia said they target to start production at the demo farm by the end of the year and would harvest about 22 million stems worth about Rwf2.9b a year. The project, which is one of the initiatives by the government to reduce trade imbalance, is expected to break even in three years, he added.
Meanwhile, three investors have shown interest in the local flower sector. They are Indian-based firms, Nehu International and Indiamro, and a South African firm.