RWANDA – SOUK Farms, a Rwandan producer, has successfully exported its first container of avocados to the Netherlands in their second trial shipment via sea.

The shipment was facilitated by the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) in collaboration with the IDH project.

According to Souk Farm, the sea freight trial aims to discover an alternative and cost-effective method of transporting horticultural exports to international markets.

This shipment comes exactly one year after the first trial, which was exported by a consortium of exporters from Rwanda, including SOUK Farms, to the Middle East via Dubai.

The current shipment was celebrated at an event in Kigali with the participation of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Rwanda as the guest of honor.

It involved the transportation of 22.4 tons of Hass avocados to the Netherlands, which happens to be the largest avocado importer in Europe.

Oluwaseun Rasheed, the CEO of SOUK Farms and owner of one of the largest private avocado farms in the country, hailed the development. He pointed out that until now, exporters had relied solely on airfreight, which limited their capacity.

“Sea freight not only expands our reach but also significantly reduces logistics costs, enabling better farmgate prices for our smallholder farmers, who are the backbone of our success. These prices have increased by over 20% on average,” he explained.

For Emmanuel Harelimana, CEO of Garden Fresh, sea freight offers several advantages over air freight.

“Once the trial is successful, exporters will be provided with increased capacity and flexibility,” Harelimana announced. “Sea routes are more cost-effective and have a lower carbon footprint.”

In her remarks shortly before flagging off the shipment, H.E. Joan Wiegman, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Rwanda, said that the project aligns with the Netherlands’ policy to promote sustainable trade and investment within Rwanda.

The second wave of avocados was sourced from over 1,200 smallholder farmers from all corners of the country.

Meanwhile, in a previously published report, Rwanda is implementing several strategies to achieve a 600% growth in avocado exports, reaching a total of around 16,000 tons per year by 2026.

Only for the fiscal year 2022-2023, Rwanda exported avocado over 3.2 million kilograms worth EUR. 6.2 million (USD 6.6 million) reveals an IDH report.

“This brings to a total of EUR 13 million (USD 13.7 million) worth of avocados exported from Rwanda since 2018,” outlines the report.

According to Rwanda’s National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), the avocado market is moving towards greater sustainability and, as a result, requires cost-effective transportation chains, such as sea freight.

It is expected that over 200 hectares will be brought into production in the coming years, nearly doubling avocado production in Rwanda.

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