Rwanda’s fruit industry may seem small but my recent investigation into the market, however shows that it is one of the fast developing sectors in the economy.
I was overwhelmed by the sacks of passion fruits that go across the border to Uganda on a daily basis. People at the border are engaged mostly in passion fruit business. There were truck loads full of passion fruit sacks. Other dealers use buses to transport the products to Kampala and Nairobi.
My gut feeling is that there could be great deal in the fruit industry in Rwanda.
Rubazora Kenneth, a passion fruit dealer at the Gatuna border (Uganda Rwanda) told me passion fruit from Rwanda have a great market in Uganda through to Kenya.
“If you have passion fruits from Rwanda then you are assured of clean money at what ever price you may opt to charge.”
Rubazora says that while people struggle a lot trying to find what to do, fruit business remain untouched. “I do not know if people fear reaching Kampala to explore the fruit market available. Production of passion fruits is low and the market is very big,” says an energetic looking Rubazora.
“Take an example of the different types of juice that I even do not know where they are produced from. Tons of fruits are used up by these industries every day but the question is. Do our Ugandan local farmers know this? Of course not that’s why we come in Rwanda to buy the passion fruits to feed our industries,” continues Rubazora
Research shows that fruit growing in Rwanda, though produced on a low scale could be the best in the region since there is good soil and climatic conditions necessary for fruit growing especially the passion fruits.
Findings confirmed by Kembabazi Justine remarks, another passion fruit dealer at the boarder, that a sack of Rwandan passion fruit is better quality than others from the region.
“The quality from Rwanda is better than all other passion fruits in East Africa. One sack goes up to 120.000 Ugandan shillings, an equivalent of 40.000 Rwandan francs while passion from other areas cost around 90.000 shillings an equivalent of 30.000 francs,” reveals Kembabazi.
According to the Rwandan Agricultural development Authority (RADA) the Government is encouraging farmers to grow passion fruit on a large scale by getting them to open up more land for passion fruit growing.
This will increase production of passion fruits in the country to feed the large market in passion fruit processing industries. Making Rwanda a leading passion fruit producer in the region.
Ndayishimira Ambrose, a passion fruit vendor in Nyabugogo market says that they need to establish associations to enhance their productivity and profits in the business.
“Passion juice is among the most expensive soft drink in cafes and restaurants. This explains how serious the business would be if farmers stepped up for it,” says Ndayishimira from his stall in Nyabugogo market.
This raised a question of how many could be knowing about this lucrative business? When you move around most of the markets in the country, you will find that a few mostly women carry out passion fruit business on a very low scale.
Women carry baskets on their heads with different fruits for sell. They move around from house to house selling to different people and some times failing to make a lot of sales.
Mukamusoni Jackline, a fruit hawker says that fruits have got market but the capital to deal in a large business is inaccessible.
“Most of us who carry baskets on our heads do not have associations to help boost our businesses. But if we had a way of buying in bulk and taking to different places then we would be earning a lot,” says Mukamusoni.
Passion fruits are some of the very important fruits that contribute a lot to the food industry in Rwanda and the whole world at large.
This is clearly seen in some of the products that command high market regionally. Let’s take an example of Agashya, a passion juice made from here by the Nyirangarama industries.
I bet every one will have to agree with me that among the refreshing juices sold this is mostly referred to as the best.