Rwanda eyeing flower dollars

BY GERTRUDE MAJYAMBERE

 

Though commercial flower-growing has boosted economic development and increased foreign revenue earnings elsewhere, in Rwanda the sector is yet to be exploited.

 

This is denying the country the much needed funds to implement her development plans. Market tests indicate that Rwanda Flora, the lone firm that ventured into flower business currently, earns less than $2 million from exporting 5 to 10 metric tonnes of horticulture products weekly. 

A horticulture expert, Peter Muvara said the country has a capacity to earn $60 annually, if the sector is fully exploited.

 

And in five years, Muvara says Rwanda targets to increase the flower farmed land to 100 hectares. The land will be able to producing 5,880 metric tonnes for the export market. And, more than 3,000 Rwandans will be employed in the flower industry, according to a plan.

 

Looking at the potential of the flower sector, government and the private sector have formed a joint venture. Four associations have been formed to open 50 hectare of land for flower-growing. They are to access some funding from PSOM, a programme that focuses on poverty reduction through economic cooperation between the Dutch and local companies.

 

This initiative can also be used to further strengthen business relations between Rwanda and Dutch floricultural companies.

 

Incentives

To attract investors and spur rapid development in the flower sector, government has also come up with incentives.

Some of them include free land in KigaliCity and tax holidays to whoever engages in flower growing. With these in place Muvara said, “I am confident horticulture will become a major export earner. We shall tap experiences from neighbouring

 

countries that are engaged in flower growing.” Simultaneous commitment and investment from both the government and the private sector is needed to achieve this goal.

 

Coldroom

The recent completed coldroom at KigaliInternationalAirport with a capacity to handle 150 metric tonnes per day is a big step in the development of the horticulture sector in the country. With this facility in  place, more horticultural products will be handled at the airport.

The coldroom has five chambers, one for pre-cooling-- products stored before they are taken to respective rooms with appropriate temperatures. A packing room facility has also been built to handle fruits, vegetables and cut-flowers.

Some of the exports to be stored in this coldroom include pineapple, passion fruits, sugar snaps, pawpaw and cut flowers.

MAGERWA, the management of government warehouses is managing the coldroom facility at the airport.

 “This (coldroom) is still not enough, but as the sector develops further more coldrooms with bigger capacities may be constructed.” Muvara said.

 

Sympathisers

Government is in touch with experienced floriculture experts in the region. Some of them include Kenyan firms. They include; East African Growers, Fresh-Co, Triple AAA.

 

Kenya is a leading supplier of flowers to the European markets. The exports are growing at between 10 to 15 per cent per year.

The country exports most of her flowers to the Netherlands and the UK. Other significant exporters of floricultural products are Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa.

 

Challenges

Some of the challenges identified is flower sector include lack of expertise.

All in all the country is endowed with fertile valleys and fresh water that makes irrigation of flowers more cheap and competitive in the Great Lakes Region.loricultural products are Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa.

 

ENDS

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