By The Inspirer Staff
Rwanda’s agricultural exports have been constantly growing, and they increased from over $208 million in 2013 to over $356 million in 2017 in monetary value, show figures from the Ministry of agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI).
The figures were released by Dr. Octave Semwaga, Director General of Strategic Planning and Programs Coordination at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) during the opening of the 13th National Agriculture Show which ran from June 26 to July 3, 2018 at Mulindi agriculture showground, in Kigali.
Semwaga was making a presentation on key achievements of the concluding third Strategic Plan for Agriculture Transformation (PSTA3) to give place to the PSTA4 which was launched on June 28, 2018, in Kigali.
“What is most important is that our agriculture exports have been diversified from coffee and tea which were common exports commodities from Rwanda to other commodities which were not common,” he said.
Commodities that Rwanda was not exporting in the past include chili pepper, cereals (grains and flours), vegetables, fruits, dairy products, eggs, fish, vegetable oil, roots and tubers and flours, pulses (such as beans and peas), live animals, meat, and hides and skins, according to information from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI).
“I think that this is an achievement to appreciate. This is one of the legacies that this five year strategy has bequeathed to us,” he said.
While speaking as he officiated the launch of PSTA4, Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente reiterated that agricultural exports grew significantly under PSTA3, with overall agricultural growth averaging 6% under PSTA3, observing that it is expected to reach an average of 10% during the course of PSTA4.
The outcomes of the PSTA3 interventions include improving the food security level in the country from 65% in 2013 to about 80 percent in 2015 (now, he said that an new survey is being conducted to ascertain the current food security state in the country).
Fighting malnutrition, as the agriculture produce was used by households for consumption and benefited people’s nutrition including children and pregnant mothers.
The development resulted in the decline of stunting among children under the age of five years from 52% to about 38%.
Semwaga said that agriculture contribute about a third of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, and many people (about 65.8% of Rwandans) are engaged in agriculture.
“As the sector developed, the move contributed to poverty reduction,” Semwaga said pointing out that in 2001, poverty among Rwandans was at 60% against 39% as of 2015.
However, he said, “we are not satisfied with the level we have reached. We wish to achieve zero poverty, zero stunting children, but rather exponentially increase the country’s GDP; the journey continues,” citing some of the pressing issues that still hinder farming productivity including climate change such as drought, crop diseases and low investment and lending to agriculture sector which currently accounts for 5.2% of the total loans given from banks.
Donatille Nibagwire, exports agricultural commodities including egg plants, chili pepper, vegetables and cassava flour to Belgium, Canada, and Congo Brazzaville under her company Floris, Which deals in horticulture products.
She observed that her exports volumes increased from an average of one tonne per week in 2016 to five tonnes this year, and that she plans to further grow her exports base.
“It is true that farm exports from Rwanda have gone higher, but, we always want to make more progress,” she said.
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