From a small start to a mega flower production company, Bella Flowers Ltd, Rwanda’s private company involved in production and export of fresh cut roses, has not only yielded results, but also taken the country’s image global.
Started in 2016, the company, which is fully owned by the government of Rwanda, was established with the main objective of investing in the production and export of fresh cut roses, targeting global markets. Currently, the company grows 18 varieties of roses on 32 hectares. It is expected that by the end of this year (2019), of 100 hectares targeted to be covered by the project, 40 hectares will be under production.
Located in Gishali Sector, Rwamagana District, Eastern Province, the farm of Bella Flowers is situated at an altitude of 1550 M above sea level, about 65 km from Kigali International Airport. The farm site location offers proven growing conditions for premium intermediate head size standard roses, with production yielding an average of 150,000 stems a day.
According to Ephrem Kwitonda, the company’s Sales and Marketing officer, since the company inception in 2016, the company has produced 1,777,712 stems with 37% of them exported. In 2017, they produced 19,904,225 stems with 76% exported to international markets. In the last two years, says Kwitonda, the company’s export portfolio continues to grow, with 70% of the total 32,427,834 stems exported last year, while the company targets to produce 42 million stems with 80% of it exported mainly to Holland before end of this year.
At least 60% of the company exported flowers go to Holland, according to Kwitonda.
Since its inception, the company managed to export 32.5 million stems to the international markets, which granted it Global Gap certification. Started in 1977, Global Gap certification is the World’s leading farm assurance program, translating consumer requirements into Good Agricultural Practice in a rapidly growing list of countries – currently covering more than 135 countries.
Through certification, Bella Flowers has expanded its market reach to Australia, South Korea, Japan, DR-Congo, Gabon in addition to Holland which is the global flower hub. The company has also started a process to obtain Fairtrade certifications before end of 2019. “This will enhance our competitive advantage on the international markets especially in the European Union and UK.” Says Kwitonda.
With a prospect to extend flower business beyond Rwandan borders, Bella Flowers has an export target of reaching 60 million stems a year by 2020, bringing more direct customers on board including direct customers in Holland, UK, Belgium, Australia, South Korea, Gabon, Japan and DRC.
Currently, the company exports products through sea and air, where it works with airlines such as Rwandair, SN Brussels and KLM. To bridge the country’s employment gap, Bella Flowers employs 600 general workers from its neighborhood of Gishali sector of Rwamagana District, Eastern Province, who are involved in production activities, harvesting and grading. The company also has 38 permanent staff including management.
In the fiscal year that ended on 30th June 2019, 632,318 Kg of Rwandan flowers were exported and earned US$ 3,145,577 as foreign exchange.
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