RWANDA – The government of Rwanda through the National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) has launched a fruit tree planting project that will see more than 100 million fruit trees planted by 2024 in a bid to improve agricultural exports.

According to New Times Rwanda, the project is also expected to create more employment opportunities among the youths in the country.

During the launch, NAEB oversaw the planting of 8,000 fruit trees of mangoes, avocadoes, papayas and citrus among others.

According to Alex Nkurunziza, a Coordinator in NAEB, said that the trees will largely boost mango and avocado exports. 

“We assure the farmers that once they plant those trees, and maintain them, we will link them to markets.

There is still a gap in terms of fruit exports. That’s is why we need to increase fruit trees in the country,” he said.

NAEB statistics reveal that the country recorded an increase in fruit export from 5.9 million kilogrammes within July 2016 to June 2017 to over 8.75 million kilogrammes within July 2017 to June this year.

This reflected a considerable increase in revenue generated from the export raising to US$6.89 million within July 2017 to June this year from US$4.98 million over the same period last year.

Fresh sweet bananas, avocadoes, mangos, passion fruit and guava contributed to thebulk of fruit exported.

Nkurunziza added that there is a significant market for avocadoes fruits in the Netherlands but the low output means that Rwanda cannot tap from it.

Meanwhile, the government has been on the move to increase volumes of vegetables and fruits, though there is need to invest in cold chain storage facilities other than the facility at the Kigali International airport.

During the 2016 World Economic Forum held in Rwanda, a Public Private Partnership initiative was launched that sought to mobilize US$2 billion to create integrated value chains and set up high capacity cold storage facilities across Sub-Saharan Africa.

During the forum, it was disclosed that, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda were set to benefit from three cold storage projects – which were expected to be constructed and fully functional by the end of 2017.