RWANDA – Rwanda is about to realize the fruits of the partnership it has with the Rhineland-Palatinate to promote cooperation in agriculture mainly in technology-driven farming, and sustainable winegrowing – the cultivation and harvesting of grapes

At a cost just over Rwf1.2 billion (US$1.1m), a new wine-producing facility that will make red wine and soft drinks from grapes of good quality is being constructed in Rwanda by private investors.

The grape processing factory in the industrial zone of Huye district will also process bottled mineral water in addition to making other soft drinks.

In the 2019 deal, Germany committed to helping Rwanda with the requisite state-of-the-art technology, research, and expertise to start growing grapes that are used as the main source of red wine, white wine, and rosé wines on the global market.

The partnership with Germany aims to identify suitable geographical regions and sites for grapevine cultivation on the basis, among other things, of soil information, topographic profile, as well as suitable grape varieties.

Germany is ranked tenth among the top 15 global wine-producing countries, by volume, while Italy, France, and Spain retain the top three positions.

The Deputy Director-General in charge of agriculture development at the Rwanda Agricultural and Animal Resources Development Board, Charles Bucagu, said: “We are promoting grapes, in collaboration with Germany. Wine growing is another opportunity we are exploring for Rwanda. “

Current activities are to identify local germplasm in the country (types of varieties), clean them, and set up plans for local multiplication, but also introduce new and highly performing varieties from other places.

“We have two varieties introduced from Germany that are being tested for adaptability at Mulindi Horticulture Centre of Excellence. Depending on the results of the trials, dissemination will follow. If they do not adapt, we will look for others.”

Rwanda’s imports of wine and grape must (excluding grape juice) from South Africa were US$1.39 million in 2021, according to the United Nations database on international trade.

Moreover, the still wine (wine from the fermentation of the grape) market in Rwanda was equal to US$4 million (calculated in retail prices) in 2015 and is projected to reach US$7.61 million (in retail prices), thus increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 8.78 percent per annum for the period 2020-2025.

The growth rate has inspired and brought confidence to one businessman and farmer in the country, who grows European red grapes (Vitis Vinifera) in Sovu industrial zone, Huye District, and reaps millions from grape, juice, and vine sales.

Theogene Ntampaka said though growing grapes is “a highly productive business,” it has been neglected by farmers and government agencies in charge of agriculture and one can hardly find them on many farms across the country.

He attributed the low volumes produced in the country to a lack of sensitization about the importance of grape growing.

“Many farmers don’t know how to grow grapes and most still consider it as a foreign activity for countries in Europe and America,” Ntampaka noted.

He called on responsible government institutions to sensitize farmers on the benefits of growing grapes as well as provide extension services and technical support to help develop the agriculture sector generally.

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