Economy : Agricultural exports could rise in 2012

Rwanda’s exports from agricultural products will rise substantially next year, an indicator that efforts by government to increase exports, especially through value added agricultural products are paying off, according to National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB).
Maize plantation. The projection of high agricultural output is set to boost exports (The New Times/ File).
Maize plantation. The projection of high agricultural output is set to boost exports (The New Times/ File).

Rwanda’s exports from agricultural products will rise substantially next year, an indicator that efforts by government to increase exports, especially through value added agricultural products are paying off, according to National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB).

NAEB, a government controlled institution, which was formed after the merger of Ocir-café, Ocir-Thé and Rwanda Horticultural Development Authority (RHODA), said last week that agriculture exports will increase in value and volume from 2012 up to 2017.

“With our current interventions in land consolidation, garden improvement and helping farmers to increase production we are confident that our exports will increase,” Alex Kanyankore, the Managing Director of NAEB said.
He revealed that tea revenues are projected to rise to US$69m next year from US$61m while coffee earnings will increase from US$73m to US$99m.

By 2017, revenues from coffee are expected to hit US$257m and US$147m for tea.

As one of the measures to control major coffee pests, antestia and CCB, as well as coffee disease, 70,000 litres of insecticides, including 10 tons of copper and 1,100 litres of Alto were applied.

NAEB says at least 80 per cent of coffee plantations were sprayed with insecticides.

In an effort to boost tea output, Kanyankore noted that three tea factories are in the pipeline while two will be rehabilitated by February 2012. Tea forked $31.5m in the first quarter of 2011 slightly trailing coffee at $35.7m.
Coffee and tea are Rwanda’s leading foreign exchange revenue earners respectively after tourism, which generated of US$56.6m.

The sectors aided the country to a quick rebound following a sharp downturn in 2009.

In a move that is expected to trim the country’s rising trade deficit, horticulture export revenues are expected to rise to US$335m by 2017 while honey will increase to 576 metric tons next year and is expected to shoot to 1,433 metric tons by 2017.

Epimaque Nsanzabaganwa, the head of horticulture Division at NAEB noted that despite the current fall in horticulture production, the board plans to increase flower production to bridge the shortfall in the capacity by installing green houses and fields of cut flowers, foliage and ornamentals.
“We want to mobilise new farmers to grow raw materials of essential oil and provide the required training,” he said.
He added that plans are underway to establish two cold trucks, construction of 30 medium collection centres by next year and one packaging materials factory by 2017.

Industry experts say that the establishment of pack houses, cold trucks would address the challenges of poor quality within the horticulture industry.

This comes in the wake of various recommendations that Rwanda needs to increase investment in agriculture to improve farm productivity, creating a skilled labour force and remove infrastructure bottlenecks.

dias.nyesiga@newtimes.co.rw

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