Over 300 horticulture sector stakeholders, including farmers, exporters and policy-makers from East African Community (EAC) and the DR Congo will this month converge in Kigali for the annual regional horticulture summit.
The two-day meeting is geared toward finding ways of stimulating the horticulture industry in the region, according to the National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB) officials.
George William Kayonga, the NAEB chief executive officer, said Rwanda would use the event to market its horticulture products.
“We want to create a sustainable regional market for horticulture produce, where companies can do business, share ideas on entrepreneurship, as well as access information and business solutions and advocate for improved trade environment in the region,” he said.
The summit, scheduled for November 25-27, will bring together key international, regional and domestic agri-business players and decision-makers.
During the regional event, farmers will showcase innovative horticulture products and services in a mini-expo organised by the Private Sector Federation (PSF).
Exporters have an opportunity to engage in business to business meeting during the two days trade summit and share ideas on how they can boost horticulture trade.
According to the National Export Strategy, Rwanda’s horticulture industry is expected to fetch $129 million (about Rwf96.8 billion)per year by 2018, from current $10 million (about Rwf7.5 billion).
To meet the target, NAEB formed the Rwanda Horticulture Working Group, which seeks to attract more private investments into horticulture industry, as well as stimulate dialogue among stakeholders.
The government is also targeting to increase exports to a tune of 28 per cent annually by 2018 under the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II).
Government has over the past year signed agreements with different exporter groups, as well as farmers and co-operatives to help facilitate the realisation of this ambitious target.
Horticulture priority sector
The aspirations of the government of Rwanda on what horticulture should contribute to national development are captured in EDPRS II. The intensification and commercialisation of the horticultural production is essential to reduce poverty and drive growth over the next five years.
Rwanda’s horticulture sector includes fruits, vegetables, flowers and essential oils targeting both the domestic and export markets. Since the principle source of employment in the rural areas of Rwanda is agriculture, the development of this sector can have an impact on poverty reduction.
Currently, the horticulture sector rakes in about $3 million per year.