New €16.2m project to boost Rwanda’s horticulture output

The Dutch Ambassador to Rwanda Frédérique de Man unveiling a shade net constructed by HortInvest as part of agriculture demonstration site to farmers. / Courtesy photos

More than 44,000 farmers from six districts are set to benefit from a new project that seeks to increase horticulture production,improve nutrition and support the growth of growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Rwanda, the Investment in Horticultural Development in Rwanda (HortInvest) is a four year, which runs from 2018 to 2021

The €16.2 million project seeks to strengthen the horticultural value chain.

The project manages a horticulture Innovation and Investment Fund of €5 million.

This fund leverages another €5 million investment financing from the private sector. It supports the overall objective of the Rwandan National Horticulture Policy to accelerate growth and reduce poverty and malnutrition.

It will be implemented in six districts namely Muhanga, Karongi, Rutsiro, Rubavu, Nyabihu and Ngororero.

Red peppers harvested at the demo site as a result of best farming practice.

During the launch, officials also toured part of the project in Makera valley, Nyamabuye sector and Muhanga District.

Speaking at its launch, the Netherlands Ambassador to Rwanda, Frédérique de Man, said the horticulture sector is critical for Rwanda’s socio-economic development.

She said that Netherlands is committed to support the sector.

“The Dutch –Rwanda horticulture relation has developed over the past years. The horticulture sector is a very important factor in the socio-economic development of Rwanda. The Netherlands is one of the largest horticulture exporters in the world with extensive experience and knowledge that is available to share,” she said. 

Ambassador de Man noted that for the project to be successful there is need for all players to pull together in the same direction stressing that developing the sector needed hard and dedicated work from all parties.

“There are high incentives and benefits such as a diverse and nutritious diet for households, increased income for farmers, profits for the cooperatives, fees for traders and merchants, revenues for the government and fresh vegetables and fruits for the consumers,”  added the ambassador.

Shade net constructed by HortInvest project.

Last year, Rwanda fetched $25 million from horticulture exports.

“We aim at boosting the export base in horticulture, we are putting in more efforts and the quantity is improving. This project will fight malnutrition as well as improve farmers’ income,” said Sandrine Urujeni, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB).

Farmers buoyant

Damien Ngwabije, a member of KOABIBIKA cooperative from Karongi said that the cooperative has diversified its business into horticulture after the farmers were trained in horticulture farming. Initially, the cooperative used to grow only maize and beans.

“We have acquired enough farming techniques through training. We now practice modern farming,” he said.

“We also acquired cooperative management and financial management skills and how important it is to take care of cooperative members to get good yields. We know how to look for a market before we start harvesting and we believe the project will help a lot.”

It is envisaged that the project will improve the incomes of some 44,000 smallholder farmers, boost the turnover of 30 horticulture SMEs, strengthen cooperatives and develop the horticulture businesses industry.

Farmers listening to the opening remark of the event.

Led by SNV, the implementing consortium includes IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, Wageningen University and Research, Agriterra, and Holland Greentech, among others.

“We strongly believe that working with the government…will increase the availability of horticulture products domestically and boost exports,” Bernie F. Chaves, Country Director for SNV, said.

The project follows a market-led value chain approach from production field to shop shelf, the private sector plays a key role.

This market-led project particularly focuses on fruit and vegetables for domestic, regional and international markets. Key target groups are small and medium sized farmers, farmer cooperatives, and companies within the horticulture value chain.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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