A kilogram of refined pyrethrum is currently sold at $ 200 on the export market to America
While Rwanda currently produces only 5 percent (20 metric tonnes ), of the world supply of it has a potential to expand its production up to 50 metric tonnes of the pyrethrum refined extract.
Total world demand of refined extract is estimated at 400 metric tonnes while world supply is estimated at 100 metric tonnes. This means world- wide pyrethrum supply is less than 50 percent of the world demand.
However according to David Rwiyamirira, the General Manager SOPYRWA, the Musanze based Pyrethrum plant; the plant is currently operating far below (10 percent) its capacity.
SOPYRWA newly acquired extraction facility has the capacity to process at least 50 metric tonnes of refined extract per annum.
“Unlike other cash crops with pyrethrum, today the more you produce, the more the demand on the market. The market is insatiable, more people are asking for it, but we do not have it. We cannot even satisfy USA, currently our only export market,” Rwiyamirira told Business Times in an interview last week.
He added that despite trading with the most stable market – USA that consumes 70 percent of the world production, Rwanda produces much less of the product making it impossible to meet the demands of the U.S market.
Last week on Friday, Florizelle Liser, the Assistant U.S Trade Representative for Africa visited the plant to identify opportunities for supporting the plant, specifically to boost its production.
Pyrethrum is a naturally occurring botanical insecticide. From its refined extract scientists develop insecticides and related products that can be used for extermination and control of insects including mosquitoes that transmit diseases to humans and animals.
It can also be used in commercial sectors for commercial institutions and industrial areas for fumigation and preservation.
Not only is the product highly demanded world-wide but it also fetches high prices that could generate immense revenue for the economy.
A kilogram of refined pyrethrum is currently sold at $ 200 on the export market to America.
Last year, Pyrethrum sales of the refined extract amounted to $ 915,300 (each unit sold at $180) of the 209 metric tonnes of dry flower, with the company registering a margin of $152,550.
SOPYRWA’s projection for production and cash flow, for the next five years (2008-2013), estimates that the total sales of refined extract of pyrethrum are expected to hit $26.9million.
The total land exclusively available for Pyrethrum plantation is equivalent to 5,600 hectares and has the capacity to produce 4,500 metric tonnes of dry flowers per annum if properly harnessed.
“Rwanda has fertile soils, correct altitude suitable for pyrethrum cultivation and the required labour force which is comparatively cheaper,” Rwiyamirira said.
“Pyrethrum as an organic chemical is eco friendly. This explains the huge demand because they friendly to the environment and do not cause harm to human beings and animals that use them. Countries like America have decided to “go green” so that why such products are on high demand,” he added.
As a valuable export, pyrethrum also generates employment that could help the country to alleviate poverty and facilitate economic development.
The Musanze plant is currently employing approximately 14,391 active farmers.
The farmers are allocated approximately 2 hectares per family, on a consensus that each farmer will cultivate approximately 40 percent of the land or 0.72 hectares with the pyrethrum crop.
Yet with increased production, Rwanda has the potential to meet the demands of the US market, and also exploit Europe, Asia and African markets.
“We need to take advantage of this shortage now; if we do not there might be a shift to synthetics. Yet Rwanda has the potential of becoming a regional hub for pyrethrum refinery given its central location and conducive environment.”
Rwanda’s volcanic soils also produce the best refined pyrethrum on the world market that scores between 70-80 percent of the pure active ingredients.
According to Rwiyamirira, the plant is operating below capacity despite willingness of the farmers to grow because there has been no investment in the farmers. This leads to the plant’s low productivity as the raw material is scarce.