Rwanda’s flower growing industry is expected to expand after the successful training of 20 flower farmers, said Vincent Karega, the Minister of State in charge of Industry and Investment Promotion.
Welcoming back the farmers from Kenya at the Hotel des Mille Collines, Kigali, at the end of last week, Karega said that the move to train farmers in flower production was part of the campaign to increase local production and add value to the flowers grown.
The training took place in Naivasha, Kenya, over three months and was funded by the Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education (Nuffic). The scheme cost €49,800 (Frw40m).
The program covered crop management, pest and disease control, fertilizer use, post harvest and package handling, drainage and irrigation. The Rwandan government is confident that participants will spur development in the industry.
“Having completed the study, it is hoped that the farmers will make a substantial impact on the rural population,” Karega said.
The Minister explained that the modern skills and techniques they acquired from Kenya are good enough to improve flower production in this country, which will in turn play a part in the realisation of ‘Vision 2020’.
Karega urged the returning farmers to help and teach fellow farmers about modern flower production techniques so that together they could meet the government’s horticulture export projections.
Rwanda is hoping to increase land used for flowers from approximately 42 to 200 hectares in the next two years to meet the increasing demand in the European flower market and to make $21m (Frw11b) from exports by 2010. Currently Rwanda’s principal flower cultivated is the Dracaena Ornamental. There are hopes to increase the different types of flower grown.
Gabriel Ngendabanga, President of the Rwanda Flower Farmers Association, said that transparency, good management and cooperation between cooperatives are all crucial if these ambitions are to be achieved.
He therefore urged flower growing cooperatives to commit themselves wholeheartedly and to exercise good management.
Ngendabanga pointed out that Rwanda’s climate is ideal for flower growing, and as a result Rwanda can aim to match the successes of other east African countries.
There are already signs of progress. The Rwanda Flower Farmers Association, established in 2005 to promote flower cultivation, now consists of 3,600 farmers. The association has grown from just two hectares of flower plantations in 2005 to 42 hectares today.
“With the right skills and our good climate, Rwanda can compete with the leading Great Lakes flower producers,” Ngendabanga said.