By Fidel Munyeshyaka

Researcher, GLCSS

Rwanda has initiated structural transformation in the agriculture sector through modernization to increase food security and boost the country’s economy.

The government’s goal is to shift from subsistence farming to modern agri-business and from traditional farming to a more structured government program.

                                                

Rwanda’s goal is to boost agriculture production to achieve between 5 and 8 percent annual growth to fulfill Vision 2020.

 

Director of Agriculture Policy Department in Agriculture Ministry (MINAGRI) Epimaque Nsanzabaganwa stressed the population has started replacing traditional crops with cash crops. He emphasized the government will maintain its efforts toward export products, especially coffee, tea, flowers, and pyrethrum.

 

Nsanzabaganwa reported that traditional agriculture will eventually decrease from 40 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to approximately 20 percent in 2020. He also envisions the new agri-business industry will increase to between 13 and 15 percent of the GDP.

 

Rwanda is promoting coffee production to increase farming income.  Coffee washing stations have been added to improve the coffee’s quality. In addition, coffee farmers are planting new higher yield coffee plants. According to country Long-term Investment Portfolio (LTIP), this has resulted in an increase of coffee cultivation from 32.000 hectares (ha) to 55.000 ha by 2020.

 

Coffee has played a crucial role in the positive changes in Rwanda. By improving the quality of their coffee, about 40,000 of Rwanda’s 500,000 coffee farmers have doubled their incomes. Rwanda has gone from being a complete unknown to being famous for its Robusta and Arabica coffee, which is exported to the United States of America (USA), Germany, France Belgium Great Britain and Switzerland.
 

MINAGRI forecasts its 2006-2007 coffee output will increase to 25,000 metric tons from 17,000 tons last season. Rwanda’s next target is to increase investment in coffee processing operations and diversification of the coffee varieties grown. Starbucks has already bought into the proposition and is now selling Rwandan coffee in its Blue Bourbon campaign.
 

Apart from coffee, Rwanda has also invested in tea promotion as the second cash crop of the country. The governments will also continue its efforts to support tea growers, which are grouped in three categories: Village Tea Growers (VT), Cooperatives Tea Growers (COOPTHE) and Associations of Tea Growers (ASSOPTHE).

 

This will increase tea production quality and quantity, according to the government’s plans. Tea processing factories will continue to be privatized to ensure efficient management. The tea cultivation area is expected to increase from 12,000 ha to 21,000 ha by 2020.

 

Besides coffee and tea, the country has initiated growing flowers, vegetables, fruits and pyrethrum. The pyrethrum cultivation is now promoted in the northwest of the country and its cultivation will increase to 6,000 ha by 2020 from 4,000 ha.

 

 

Commercial flower growing is a new industry in Rwanda. There is only one company with six hectares of greenhouses and 200 employees, which produces and exports sweetheart roses to the Netherlands and Kenya. There are other non-large-scale flower producers, who mainly cultivate small plots and sell their flowers on the local market.
Rwanda has established the Rwanda Flower Producers Exporters Federation (ARPEF) to consolidate the smaller flower produces into cooperatives. The federation has created an organizational structure with six Cooperative Unions formed by 57 cooperatives spread over the whole country, each cooperative has 10 members.
 Fidel Munyeshyaka can be reached at fidel@glcss.org. 

 

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