Rwanda Development Board and the Ministry of Agriculture are seeking to attract investments, improve market linkages and enhance resilience in agriculture and agribusiness sector with an aim to increase exports and creating more jobs.
Officials from the two sectors made the commitment last week during an Agriculture and Agribusiness CEO Forum, which brought together policymakers, agriculture and agribusiness stakeholders. Over 200 investors convened under the theme “Agriculture and agribusiness development, a catalyst for economic growth”.
Clare Akamanzi, the Chief Executive of RDB, noted that the private sector continues to play an essential role in boosting Rwanda’s economy.
“We want to take investment in agriculture further and increase exports, create more and better jobs through attracting more investments, improve market linkages and enhancing resilience across the sector,” she said.
She said that investments worth about $53 million in agriculture and agribusiness are made every year especially from floriculture, tea and flour production as well as children’s food among others.
RDB and Agriculture ministry have made a strong commitment that such investments in agriculture and livestock grow up to $90 million annually in the coming years.
The envisaged investments are in line with the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) which aims to boost production.
In 2017, in all sectors generally, RDB attracted 137 investment commitments totalling US$ 1.67 billion and generated 37,548 jobs.
Part of the total investments includes in the agriculture where, for instance Unilever Tea Rwanda, committed to investing $23m in a commercial tea estate and factory in the next 5 years.
Construction, Mining and Energy registered the highest investment while most jobs were generated in the agriculture, manufacturing and energy sectors.
RDB supported promising exporters as well as Small and Medium Enterprises yielding a 43 per cent export increase for 8 leading manufacturing and agro-processing companies.
“Given the role of agriculture and agribusiness sector in the development of Rwanda, it is no surprise that as the development board, we understand the need to bring together key players in the sector to interact, exchange ideas to boost the sector. Agriculture is the cornerstone of Rwanda and we have a strong ambition and commitment for growth,” she said.
Today about 30 per cent of Rwanda’s GDP is generated by the agricultural sector and employs around 70 per cent of the workforce.
The Minister for Agriculture, Geraldine Mukeshimana, said that private investors should be confident in the government’s vision so that they be able to contribute to the targeted achievements.
“There are so many investment opportunities in the agriculture sector considering the increasing population leading to rising food demand and this requires strong private sector involvement. We are striving towards increasing agricultural productivity, reduce postharvest losses but also increase more processed food items by linking them to markets inside and outside the country,” she said.
Some investors in agriculture and agribusiness have raised concern over banks reluctance to provide loans to the sector, which could affect the growth.
According to the president of Rwanda Poultry Association, Jean Claude Ruzibiza, raw materials, such as feeds for poultry, are imported which make them expensive making agriculture loans a necessary aspect in the value chain.
“Government is mulling over availing loans at affordable interest rates-as low as 14 per cent which would come as a huge relief,” he said.