Government has promised to outsource international markets on behalf of horticulture exporters and also allow them to utilise the cold room at Kigali International Airport for two months without paying storage costs, in a move that could stimulate full utilisation of the Rwf500m redundant facility.
Ndambe Nzaramba, Director General of Rwanda Horticulture Development Authority (RHODA) told Business Times that government is also investigating why the 30 metric tonne capacity facility has been redundant for nearly a year.
The refrigerated facility was launched in May 2007 to facilitate storage of perishable exports and imports
“It has never been used to its maximum.
The facility was constructed upon the request from the business community and it’s in the middle of cargo and transport chain,” Nzaramba said, adding that the facility would resume operations in July this year.
He said the private sector has cited the absence of the international market for Rwandan produce, lack of cargo space and high cargo costs.
Nzaramba said that recently a meeting was held between RwandAir, Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority and potential exporters to discuss how the facility can be fully utilised.
RwandAir promised to increase cargo space in its upcoming aircraft which will operate the Kigali-Dubai route. The move by the national carrier is expected to trim cargo flight costs and also boost horticulture exports.
“Perishable exports need direct flights,” he said.
Studies suggest that cargo flight charges in Rwanda are twice higher than those in other EAC countries like Kenya.
Nzaramba said that SN Brussels, the sole airline that facilitates cargo transportation in Rwanda has only two tonnes of cargo space including passengers’ cargo.
Other strategies to encourage exporters’ use the cold room include training of farmers in global Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), fair trade, organic farming, marketing as well as facilitating them to acquire quality seeds and help them make competitive business plans.