Rwanda Horticulture Working Group (RHWG) Launched
Rwanda’s National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB) has launched a Rwanda Horticulture Working Group (RHWG). An initial meeting on August 18 in Kigali brought together public and private sector organisations, donor institutions and NGOs, Rwanda Development Board, the Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture, Trademark East Africa, the Dutch Embassy, the Private Sector Federation, USAID (representatives of the Rwanda Private-Sector Driven Agricultural Growth Project) and Grow Africa. Seven private-sector companies, including avocado producer Avoka Growers, Ltd and Proxi-Fresh attended. The main objective of the RHWG is to provide an informal platform for dialogue between stakeholders, and provide a channel for formal dialogue with government on issues in the horticulture sector. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has supported the launch of the RHWG while Grow Africa increased private sector participation.
The Rwandan government is looking to develop the sector as part of a series of initiatives aimed at delivering on ambitious targets for exports growth set out in the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS 2). The Government of Rwanda has started to invest in value-chain development as part of the implementation of the strategic Plan for Agriculture Transformation (PSTA 3). Horticulture has been added to traditional export crops (tea, coffee and pyrethrum), in order to meet the targets set out in the plan. The revised National Export Strategy (NES) targets growth in horticulture exports from US$ 6 million in 2013 to around $16 million in 2018. Although horticulture is currently predominantly exported to neighboring countries, and only constitutes a small share (around 2.4%) of non-traditional exports, growth in the sector is seen as key to diversifying and expanding Rwandan exports.
Identifying and overcoming core challenges
The working group will address a number of challenges need to be overcome to create robust horticultural value chains, requiring collaboration by different stakeholder groups and value chain players. Challenges that could be addressed by better coordination between value chain players include: High freight charges that could be lowered if exporters form a trade association to consolidate produce: Lack of cold chain infrastructure: Lack of resources for soil quality improvement programmes: Efficient processing of land applications.
The group will identify and discuss these and other key challenges facing the sector, propose measures to address them and lobby the relevant authorities. Additionally, the group will promote and facilitate opportunities for investments in the horticulture sector and convene periodic meetings with high level policy makers to strategize on ways to position the Rwanda horticultural sector as a regional and global player in the sector. The RHWG will be co-chaired by the CEO of the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) and the peer-elected General Manager of fruit and vegetable export company Proxi-Fresh, Arnaud de Rambures.
Loren Hostetter, Grow Africa Secretariat country representative for Rwanda, brokered contacts with a number of relevant organisations within the Grow Africa partnership and is also supporting the development of new investment commitments by horticulture businesses in Rwanda. Grow Africa will continue support, focusing initially on linking partners needed for investments in irrigation and for the development of finance solutions to address some of the systemic constraints hindering growth in the sector. IFC supported NAEB in the development of terms of reference for the group and an initial action plan. Hostetter was joined at the meeting by Grow Africa Executive Director, Arne Cartridge and Dr Augustine Langyintuo, Senior Agribusiness Specialist with IFC.
The Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Gerardine Mukeshimana urged the private sector to lead the working group and be vocal about the constraints. “Meetings lay the foundation but we must follow up with action,” said the Minister.
“Growing the horticulture sector will require continued effort by all of the stakeholders in the sector in order to identify and overcome systemic constraints. Grow Africa has galvanized invaluable support for the working group and we look forward to promoting specific opportunities for investment in the horticulture sector at the 2016 Grow Africa Investment Forum in Kigali,” said Ambassador William Kayonga, NAEB CEO.