A PLEDGE by the National Agricultural Export Board to assist players in the horticulture sector to access long-term credit has raised prospects for a rise in production and exports of fruits and vegetables.
Farmers and exporters say that impassable rural feeder roads, lack of irrigation machinery, tractors and market information are some of the impediments to growth in the sector.
George William Kayonga, the director general of NAEB said that the board is now in position to link farmers and exporters to financiers such as the Development Bank of Rwanda, local commercial banks as well as Business Development Fund for credit.
Stakeholders also cited lack of a one-stop information center as the other hindrance.
During a forum that brought together exporters, farmers and financial institutions, a call was made for incentives to make the sector more attractive to investors so as to boost output.
“NAEB is ready to support contract farming between farmers and exporters and monitor implementation of these contracts. We will also support exporters to access finances through BRD and BDF,” Kayonga said.
The board will also support setting up of necessary infrastructure to facilitate exporters and farmers with information, he said. Facilitating exporters with a one stop-center where all export services and market information can be accessed by all the stake holders will not only help link exporters to the market but also streamline the sector.
Gertrude Majyambere, the coordinator of exporter’s forum at the Private Sector Federation, said that creation of such a center will not only link farmers with traders but also make it easy for stakeholders to access market information and create useful links with the international market.
Rwanda Development Board is looking for investors to build a fresh produce wholesale market at the Kigali Special Economic Zone in Kicukiro District as one of the ways to expand market. The project is estimated to cost $48m (about Rwf32.5billion).
Horticulture exports are largely dominated by informal cross-border trade that accounts for about 90 per cent of total exports. According to new targets, the value of horticultural exports is projected to increase from current $20m per year to about $225m by 2017.
Rwanda’s horticulture sector is mainly composed of mangoes, avocados, bananas, pineapples, oranges and passion fruits mainly exported to Asia and Europe.