NAEB launches fruit project to shore up agricultural exports

Residents of Nyarubaka sector take trees to their farms. Photos by Michel Nkurunziza

The National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) has launched a project that will support the youth to plant more than 100 million fruit trees by 2024 to increase agricultural exports.

NAEB says the project is also likely to free up agriculture shy youths to start venturing into the sector and create employment opportunities.

At the launch of the project yesterday in Kamonyi, 8,000 fruit trees of mangoes, avocadoes, papayas, citrus and others were planted.

An old woman carrying trees to plant.Michel Nkurunziza

From July last year to June 2018, Rwanda exported over 8.75 million kilogrammes of fruits, generating $6.89 million in revenues, according to NAEB statistics.

This reflects a considerable rise from 5.9 million kilogrammes that were exported in July 2016 to June 2017,  fetching $4.98 million in export revenues.

Fruits export included fresh sweet bananas, avocadoes, mangos, passion fruit and guava.

Alex Nkurunziza, the Coordinator of NAEB in Southern Province, said that the trees will largely boost mango and avocado exports. 

“We assure the farmers that once they plant those trees, and maintain them, we will link them to markets. There is still a gap in terms of fruit exports. That’s is why we need to increase fruit trees in the country,” he said.

He added that there is a significant market for avocadoes in the Netherlands but the low output means that Rwanda cannot tap from it.

Jean Baptiste Hategekimana, the Chairman of Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum, said: “We have to think of planting fruit trees as a business.”

He added: “There are huge opportunities in agribusiness for farmers and those in value addition. We have thousands of youth in agribusiness including those who process such fruit produce into different products and they are the ones to buy those fruits from farmers.”

Under the project, some 416 young entrepreneurs have been identified to be given quality plantlets. They are each required to directly employ three youths on their farms.

Prudence Nshimyumurwa, a farmer from Nyarubaka sector in Kamonyi district said that previously, it was not easy for them to get fruit seedlings.

“I have three avocado trees around my home from which I can harvest two sacks and supply to the market. I still need to plant more of them and other types of fruit trees,” he said.

For Fercula Niyigena, a mother of three, the move will not only boost their income level but will also improve their diet.

“Sometimes you fall sick and doctors recommend you to eat more fruits ,which are expensive on the market. Had we long diversified into fruit production, we could not be facing the shortage,” she said.