The National Agriculture Exports Development Board (NAEB), says the country’s agricultural exports generated revenues amounting to over $304.6 million (over Rwf255 billion) from January to September 2017 compared to over $232.65 million earned in the same period in 2016.
In the first quarter of 2017/18, agricultural exports generated over $116 million against $82,809,581 in first quarter 2016/17.
Traditional exports like coffee, tea, and pyrethrum generated some $108 million from January to September of 2017, compared to 89 million in the same period in 2016.
The non- traditional exports revenues amounted to $196.5 million. A non-traditional export refers to a product that was traditionally produced for domestic consumption, but is now being exported after an export market is developed for it.
These export products consist of commodities that Rwanda was not exporting in the past, including cereals (grains and flours), vegetables, fruits, dairy products, eggs, fish , vegetable oil, roots and tubers and flours, pulses (such as beans), live animals, meat, and hides and skins.
Considering vegetables as one of the export commodities, the volume of exported vegetables was over 18.98 million kilogrammes from January to September 2017, compared to over 15.61 million kilogrammes in the same period of 2016, meaning that the quantity of exports increased by only 21.56%.
The value of exported vegetables was over $10 million from January to September 2017, against $5 million in the same period of 2016, implying an increase of 98.65 percent, and a rise in price per unit of the vegetables.
Maize flour sold to DR Congo and Burundi was one of the major export commodities in 2017, Christine Murebwayire, Chairperson of the Chamber of Agriculture and Livestock at Private Sector Federation (PSF) told Sunday Times.
Bananas, dried pineapple, French or green beans and chili pepper were among the exports.
Murebwayire said that sugarcane from Gakenke District was being exported even to Belgium.
Ben Mugisha, the Chief Executive Officer for Nature Fresh Foods Ltd, an agricultural commodity export company, told Sunday Times that the export market was performing well, aside from lack of enough volumes of produce by local farmers.
He said that his company exports between seven and eight tonnes of commodities – including hot chili, banana, French beans, and dry beans – per week.
The Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr GerardineMukeshimana said that the growth in export earnings was as a result of trading not only in coffee and tea, but also other commodities exported to neighbouring countries.
She pointed out that the government is working on enhancing agricultural productivity through addressing challenges including insufficient financing facing the agriculture sector.
NAEB Communication Officer, Pie Ntwari, says the body is building capacity of farmers in the horticulture and floriculture subsectors so that they have good farming practices which can enable them get higher yields.
Reduction of air fare by RwandAir eases exporters’ business
Government's intervention to facilitate exporters by reducing air fare through RwandAir, also made Rwanda's exporters competitive at the international market, Murebwayire said.
The move, she said, resulted in the cost of the fare dropping from about $2 dollar per kilogramme to $0.9 per kilogramme of export commodity.
Murebwayire observed that RwandAir’s flights to UK have helped local exporters to tap into the UK market, which added to other countries such as Belgium, France, as well as Canada where they were previously exporting.
Nature Fresh’s Mugisha adds that he was paying about $1.45 before RwandAir’s direct flights to UK, but now, pays about $0.95.
The development, he said, helped increase the number of shipments he was making from one to three per week.
A trend in agricultural exports
While over $ 304.6 million was brought into the country’s economy thanks to agricultural exports over a nine month-period (January to September 2017), agricultural export commodities generated $ 289.48 million through the fiscal year 2015-2016.
In the entire fiscal year, 2014-2015, $272.46 million was generated from agricultural exports, compared to $ 217.62 million that Rwanda earned from the exports in the whole financial year 2013-2014, according to statistics from NAEB.