RWANDA- Horticulture sector stakeholders should embrace international standards and ensure quality along the value chain to boost exports into European markets, experts have said.

The Dutch and UK experts added that Rwanda can only be able to increase its exports to Europe if farmers and exporters ensure quality along value chain and also add value to horticulture produce.

In addition, there is need to increase the sector’s production capacity so as to ensure sustainable supply to meet this growing demand in Europe, said Dolar Amarshi Popat, the UK’s trade envoy to Rwanda and Uganda.

Popat, who was speaking during the horticulture connect summit in Kigali yesterday, added that more investors from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands were interested in investing more resources toward the development of Rwanda’s and regional horticulture sector.

“The investors are being driven by Rwanda’s horticulture potential and the ease of doing business in the country,” Popat told The New Times.

Roland Waardenburg, the founding partner of INCLSVE, urged farmers to embrace new technologies to increase production, adding that exporters need to align their businesses with customer needs to grow their market share.

Exporters must always adhere to standards and safety rules and procedures, as well as product pricing guidelines and ensure that “they export the right products at the right time to benefit from the EU market”.

Sebastiaan Hoogendoorn, the Royal FloraHolland commercial manager for East Africa, urged local sector players to establish trade partnerships with their European counterparts to be able to grow their market in Europe.

Speaking at the summit, Claire Akamanzi, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) chief, said that Europe has become an important source of investment to Rwanda with investments growing from about $396 million to $1.9 billion over the past five years.

“It is, therefore, important to create those connections to help spur trade between Rwanda and our European partners,” Akamanzi noted.

Meanwhile, Ambassador George William Kayonga, the NAEB chief executive officer, said the local horticulture sector has recorded remarkable growth in recent years and contributed US$21 million export revenue in 2017 to national coffers.

The UK is supporting the sector through the US$29.1 million “Improving Market Systems for Agriculture in Rwanda” programme, which is expected to expand horticultural trade in local, regional and overseas market.

Also, the five-year HortInvest Rwanda project that is supported by the Dutch government with US$20.1 million funding is expected to reach 44,000 farmer households in six districts, especially in north west Rwanda.

New Times