RWANDA – Rwanda and Israel have partnered in the launch of the Centre of Excellence for Horticultural Development with an aim adopting modern technology and research to increase production.

According to a New Times reportthe research and technology centre, dubbed as MASHAV, is Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation biggest sponsored project in Africa expected to deploy modern technology to boost horticulture in the country.

The US$2 million centre will serve both commercial and smallholder horticulture farmers and will help address challenges in food and water insecurity.

Ambassador Gil Haskel, the Deputy Director General at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the initiative will also strengthen relations between the two countries and to pave way for more investments in future

“In this age, technology can do wonders in the field of agriculture. We can multiply, triple or even have ten times more yield in one plot of land through technology. This is the idea of this centre of excellence,” said Haskel, who is also the Head of MASHAV.

The centre is based on the Indo-Israel model of ‘Centres of Excellence in Agriculture’ which involves integrating new technologies into the agriculture sector to enhance capacity building.

Patrick Karangwa, the Director General of Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), said Rwanda considers Israel as a great partner in is ambition to transform agriculture and plans to setup affiliated small centres across the country to accelerate technological and skills transfer.

According to Gerardine Mukeshimana, the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, the country has managed to grow the horticulture exports to US$23 million up from US$5 million within the past three years.

“In a three-year time, we managed to quadruple what we had in 2015. What it means is that this is an area that can grow very fast, and as a country we have ambitious target of what we want to achieve as horticulture production’” he said.

The project comes as a boost to the government’s efforts to diversify the country’s economy through agricultural products and exports currently dominated by traditional exports such as coffee, tea and minerals.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Rwanda targets 46,314 tonnes of horticulture output and an annual export revenue of U$130 million by 2024.