The 14th and 15th February will see the launch of Horticulture Connect, a ‘first of its kind’ conference promoting horticultural market links between the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Rwanda, held at Kigali Convention Center. This conference provides a strong opportunity to introduce British and Dutch investors and buyers of horticultural produce to Rwandan producers and exporters, and the event will be a starting point in creating firm trade and investment opportunities.
The British High Commission, working with Lord Dolar Amarshi Popat, the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Uganda and Rwanda, have been at the forefront of establishing an air link between the United Kingdom and Rwanda. In addition, Lord Popat has visited the country to advocate on behalf of British business interest as well as to encourage increased trade and investment between the two countries. On his most recent visit, he discussed with the Rwanda Development Board the possibility of hosting a horticulture market conference that would enable increased Rwandan exports of flowers as well as fruits and vegetables to the UK using the newly established air link.
A trusted airlink between Kigali and Amsterdam was already established in 2010 with 5 flights per week, and since April 2013, KLM serves Kigali by a daily flight, connecting Rwandan products to the European market. The Netherlands actively supports the horticulture sector in Rwanda, and through its global auctioning system in flowers provides an enabling infrastructure for potential future exports to the UK and other European destinations. The recently developed HortInvest Program, which is financed by the Netherlands, aims to develop the horticulture value chains in Rwanda. For this event, 2 Dutch importers of horticultural produce (Van Oers United and Del Monte Foods) will visit Rwanda and meet with their potential business partners.
Establishing these types of connections is critical to growing Rwanda’s exports and opening up opportunities for investors. A recent visit by the private sector players with NAEB and RwandAir to the UK New Covent Garden Market has indicated the need to further explore opportunities for developing more robust trade relations in exports of fresh produce. Rwandan horticultural exporters currently face significant market access constraints mainly due to the lack of effective connections to European markets. On this last point, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Netherlands embassy in Rwanda see strong prospects for the horticulture sector’s role in driving economic development. Sarah Metcalf, Head of DFID Rwanda said: “Horticulture Connect presents an exciting opportunity to engage with local and international businesses on the themes of inclusive economic growth and rural livelihoods. We also look forward to showcasing DFID programmes and partners contributing to Rwanda’s growing horticulture sector, such as TMEA (Trade Mark East Africa), AFR (Access to Finance Rwanda), and FONERWA (Rwanda’s national Climate Change fund)”.
Hon. Gerardine Mukeshimana, the Minister of Agricultural and Animal Resources said, “The conference seeks to move beyond the conversations held before and create a business platform that provides delegates with tangible opportunities to establish relationships and engage with our local producers. It is one of the key factors in the growth of investment in agri-export sector.”
Rwanda is known for offering investment opportunities and is among the region’s fastest growing economies. Rwanda has been frequently on top rankings for the best place to do business and to invest in Africa, with an average GDP growth of 8% for the last decade.
Notes to Editors: DFID Rwanda has a range of programmes supporting the agricultural sector, including a major £43m Programme of Support to Agriculture (POSA), a £23.5m Improving Market Systems for Agriculture in Rwanda (IMSAR) programme, and others important to the sector such as TMEA (Trade Mark East Africa), AFR (Access to Finance Rwanda) and FONERWA (Rwanda’s national Climate Change fund)). Further information about DFID’s activity in Rwanda is available at http://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/countries/RW/ and https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/dfid-rwanda. The Kingdom of the Netherlands also has a range of programmes supporting the agricultural sector in Rwanda, including a $22M donation to the Multi Donor Trust Fund for Feeder Roads, an Integrated Water Resources Program of $44M that will run until 2020, a Landscape Restoration Program of $19 M that will start this year and will run for 4 years and a Horticulture Value Chain Development Program (HortInvest) of $20M that started recently and will run for 4 years. The export of horticulture products from Rwanda to the Netherlands in 2016 was worth $625.000 (mainly cut flowers, vegetables and plant extracts), while the import was worth $390.000 (mainly seeds).