Naeb strengthens efforts to increase exports

The national Agriculture Export Board (Naeb) seeks to tap into Dutch expertise as part of its efforts geared at developing the country's nascent horticulture sector.

The national Agriculture Export Board (Naeb) seeks to tap into Dutch expertise as part of its efforts geared at developing the country’s nascent horticulture sector.

“We have already began the initiatives targeting the flower industry and fruit processing, among others, so we encourage Dutch investors to bring their expertise and help exploit these and other opportunities the sector presents,” George Kayonga, the Naeb chief executive officer, said.

Kayonga told The New Times in an interview on Wednesday that Naeb is targeting investors who can add value to horticulture products to enhance competitiveness and help widen Rwanda’s export base.

The Netherlands is the fifth-largest European economy and one of the top exporters of horticulture produce globally.

“We want to build strong partnerships and attract more investors into the sector, as well as promote local consumption of these products because a sustainable domestic market is essential to grow the industry,” Kayonga said.

He added that though the horticulture industry is still in its infant stage, plans are underway to support pyrethrum, flowers, fruit and other traditional produce exporters to improve quality and volumes.

Christaan Rebergen, the Netherlands director general for international co-operation, said it is essential for Rwanda to reduce post-harvest losses and improve the supply value chain.
“Quality storage and transport facilities that meet international standards are a must-have for any country to build a sustainable export industry,” Rebergen noted.

Marianne Van Male, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency economic mission project manager, said Rwanda should take advantage of the East African Community to expand its market share.

“Investors from the Netherlands know the potential regional integration offers; that’s why they want to invest in Rwanda. It’s critical that the country maximises the opportunities presented by the East African Community to expand its export volumes and value,” she noted.

Rwanda’s total exports increased marginally by 0.8 per cent in value, and 12.4 per cent in volume in the first eight months of this year, according to central bank statistics.

That’s why it is important to develop the horticulture sector to increase export volumes and revenue.