Rwandophiles like to fondly describe their country as one where milk and honeys flow endlessly.
When the country introduced the One-Cow-per- Poor-Household scheme (Gir’inka), little did many realise that it would impact greatly on the country’s economy, and that it was not just a matter of fighting malnutrition in needy families or bringing in some extra money.
Now, the rewards are beginning to reshape the economic landscape. Figures released by the Rwanda National Institute of Statistics reveal that in the last quarter of 2013, milk exports dethroned the traditional foreign exchange earner, coffee, from the top spot.
Dairy exports, especially to neighbouring countries, even overtook the new kid on the block; minerals.
One might argue that the coffee industry was beset by problems thereby losing its coveted spot as Rwanda’s top earner, but the fact that milk products made phenomenal headway should not be easily dismissed.
It was the result of the government’s efforts to improve production quality of dairy products and establishing policies that gave farmers easy access to high breed cattle and financial incentives that did the trick.
Other agricultural sectors have also seen a fare share of positive policies but are yet to take the cue from the milk industry. Our country is endowed with a conducive agricultural climate and the reforms undertaken have translated into food security.
Now, our farmers should diversify into other high yield areas, such as adding value to the food chain and fully exploit regional markets, especially in central Africa, that depends a lot on food imports; Beef from Australia and Brazil, fresh fruits and vegetables from western Europe and grain from North America and Asia.