RWANDA – Overarching Rwanda’s Horticulture industry vision of helping diversify its economy by tapping the industry’s potential and to help create wealth in rural areas, the European Union (EU) has reached a deal with the Rwanda government to fund the Kigali Wholesale Market for fresh produce.

The investment is a broad envelope of the US$69 million financing agreement signed last October between Rwanda and the EU, which will assist the country strengthen its resilience of the agricultural sector to climate change over the next three years.

In Rwanda, the agriculture sector accounts for about a third (33%) of Rwanda’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs more than 70 percent of the country’s workforce.

The program also encompasses a Team Europe Initiative on ‘Sustainable and inclusive agricultural transformation’, built around the construction and development of the Kigali Wholesale market and related markets in secondary cities, as central components of highly productive and inclusive value chains.

During the signing of the deal, the parties said the construction of the fruit and vegetable market in the Kigali Special Economic Zone (KZES) will be undertaken in two phases for Rwf29.5 billion (US$27.6 million).

Belen Calvo Uyarra, the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Rwanda said: “We are very pleased to work together with the European Union Member States as Team Europe in supporting the Kigali Wholesale Market. This is a flagship of activities that we will be engaging in the New Year (2023).”

The project, first announced in 2010 and was intended to be completed in 2018, has been postponed several times, particularly due to financial constraints. The first phase of the market was expected to be set up at the Kigali Special Economic Zone in Gasabo District.

In addition to processing 180,000 tons of horticultural products, the National Agriculture Exports Development Board (NAEB) said the new market will improve logistics planning, quality control, and storage of fruits and vegetables.

The Board elaborated the improvement will touch on cleaning, grading, drying, and storage of horticultural products to reduce post-harvest losses and increase export earnings.

In Rwanda, post-harvest losses affect around 40% of horticultural production, impacting the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

To offset the losses, NAEB announced it will facilitate private sector investments in value addition in the agriculture sector.

In 2020, the EU-funded Technical Assistance, TECAN project, worked with Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), the Rwanda Agricultural Board, and Animal Resources (RAB) as well as other actors to develop and update the Post-Harvest Strategy and its implementation plan.

The study aimed to help MINAGRI and RAB to have a clear inventory of PHH infrastructures in the country, establish farmers’ needs, establish gaps in the PHH sector and support the development of the PHH policy and strategies to follow to establish PHH interventions responding to farmers’ needs.

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