Regardless of the global financial crisis that is threatening Rwanda’s exports, the refined pyrethrum market is still a promising prodcut, according to officials.
The product price has not been affected by the financial crisis. It has instead currently registered an increase to $200 from $140 in December 2008.
The semi-finished product exported to one sole market in the United States of America (US) has maintained its client base because of its quality.
Ejide Nkuranga, the Chief Operations Manager who is acting as the Director General of Societe de Pyrethre au Rwanda (Sopyrwa), told The New Times that the reason Rwanda’s pyrethrum has survived the spills of the global financial crisis is because it is considered as one of the best in the world.
The reasons as to why the product has maintained the quality trend also includes other factors like availability of fertile soils, the right altitude suitable for pyrethrum cultivation and the right methods of harvesting.
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.
“Our method of harvesting is by flower picking and has contributed much to the quality because others use machines where different impurities are mixed in the process,” said Nkuranga.
SOPYRWA’s revenue projection from production in next five years is estimated to be about $26.9 million.
The total land available for pyrethrum plantation is 5,600 hectares and has the capacity to produce 4,500 metric tonnes of dry flowers per annum if properly harnessed.
Currently the company cultivates only 2,720 hectares, producing 800 tonnes . It is also targeting to produce 1000 tonnes this year and 2000 tonnees by 2014.
Last year, Pyrethrum sales of the refined extract amounted to $983,996.SOPYRWA has invested about Rwf16 million to increase on production with much emphasis on improved seeds, production extension and sensitization among farmers.
In collaboration with USAID and a US based company called SC Johnson, SOPYRWA launched a project called PYRAMID to mobilise farmers’ organization into cooperatives and improve quantity and quality of flowers.
The company is trying to attract Europe, Asia and African markets but it’s still challenged by raw materials.
Nkuranga said that the company has already applied for the license to export pyrethrum to Europe. The pyrethrum plant is currently employing more than 14,000 active farmers.
The farmers are allocated approximately 2 hectares per homestead.