The cold room recently constructed at Kanombe Airport, Kigali, is expected to boost Rwanda’s horticulture exports.
The refrigerated room which was completed in May 2007 can store a total of 30 metric tonnes of perishable products.
The project has enabled farmers to diversify exports. Passion fruit, snow pees, pineapples, Japanese plums and geranium oil (essential oil for perfumes) can now be added to the list of exportable products. Previously only roses, apples, bananas and Dracaena Ornamental plants could be shipped from the airport.
The construction of the cold room was funded by the Dutch government. A Dutch company, Geerlofs Refrigeration, carried out the construction at a cost of Frw500m.
According to Peter Muvara, Chairman of Rwanda Horticulture Task Force, prior of the construction of the cold room the horticulture sector was unable to become a major component of the country’s economy. This is soon to change, hopes Muvara.
“Farmers will no longer be discouraged by products being ruined at the airport,” Muvara explained.
“We have registered several investors who would like to invest in the sector and this is because of refrigeration now available at the airport. The cold room is a big step in the development of Rwanda’s horticulture sector,” he added.
The country currently exports 3 to 10 metric tonnes of horticulture products a week.
Private investors who have expressed interest in the sector include East African growers based in Kenya, Rwanda Roses and Mairye Estate Limited, Uganda.
Muvara noted that Rwanda Roses will plant 15 hectares of flowers around Kigali with the aim of expanding to 30 hectares by the end of the year.
Horticulture exports in 2005 totaled $0.7m (Frw378m) and in 2006 exports increased to $2.5m (Frw1.4b). These figures are expected to increase significantly for 2007 and 2008.