The National Agriculture Export Board (Naeb) plans to set up a modern horticulture centre at Mulindi Gasabo District to help small scale farmers acquire skills and market information, George Kayonga, the Naeb chief executive officer, has said.
Kayonga said the centre will also provide farmers with innovative ideas and technologies to boost productivity in the export sector.
It is however not clear when the construction of this center will commence.
Kayonga was touring the horticulture mini-expo in Gikondo during the Rwanda Horticulture day last week, which was organised by the Rwanda Horticulture Interprofessional Organisation (RHIO).
“We want to connect farmers with local, regional and global markets, as well as help them improve standards to be competitive,” Kayonga told Business Times on the sidelines of the expo.
He added that Naeb will also link local horticulture sector players with foreign firms to tap into their expertise and experience.
Christine Murebwayire, the chairperson Chamber of Agriculture and Association of Rwanda Farmers, called on horticulture stakeholders to embrace modern ways of farming to increase productivity.
“There are still many opportunities in the horticulture sector, however you must embrace better methods of production and value addition to benefit from them,” she said.
Farmers decry lack of packaging materials
However, stakeholders said there is still a challenge of getting the right packaging material to brand products attractively, according to Speciose Mukashema, the president of Kimironko-based Co-operative Twitezimbere.
“Packaging and branding is still a challenge, but they are essential components in value addition that can help us enhance competitiveness,” Mukashema said.
Menedore Ndagijmana, the national co-ordinator of Caritas Fruits in Burundi, said linking small farmers to regional and global markets will challenge farmers to increase productivity and quality to sustain the export industry.
The government plans to improve infrastructure during this financial year to support the agriculture sector.
Horticulture was identified by the government as one of the sectors that can help Rwanda increase its export receipts in the medium-term.
Currently, the sector rakes in about $3 million in export revenue per year.
The Rwanda Horticulture Day is aimed at matchmaking of agribusinesses and marketing of horticulture products to enhance the access to domestic and international markets, as well as initiate deals in agro-finance between farmers and financial institutions.