Rwandans involved in the import-export trade and agro-input dealers can now be able to process their applications for certification online in the comfort of their offices.
This follows the launch last week of a new internet portal where agriculture-based firms will to apply for permits or certificates.
Agriculture state minister Tony Nsanganira says the new online platform could reduce the time and cost of acquiring import-export certificates and permits by 45 per cent.
Previously, traders complained of bureaucracy that often resulted in delays and affected supply schedules to clients. Besides, bureaucratic delays are characterised as non-tariff barriers, so every effort must be made to find ways of eliminating them to support the private sector.
Therefore, this kind of trade facilitation is welcome as it will simplify processes, and ensure transparency and accountability among sector players. It is small things like that which help improve Rwanda’s business environment and attract more investors to the country.
The launch of the facility is timely and will support other initiatives aimed at increasing agro-exports and strengthen the country’s forex reserves. However, stakeholders, particularly exporters, need to ensure quality so that Rwanda’s agriculture exports are competitive on the global market.
The government should also support horticulture farmers’ co-operatives and exporters to establish cold room facilities along the value chain and encourage farmers to expand the enterprises to sustainable volumes.
Easing the process of getting export permits when volumes are still low does not support the country’s export growth targets in the long-run. However, with inputs like fertilisers reaching farmers on time, it should not be a problem in the medium-term.
The agriculture sector contributed 33 per cent to GDP in the first quarter of the year and it employs over 72 per cent of the population. This is why initiatives that improve production and market access are welcome and must be supported by all.