RWANDA – Rwanda’s avocado season, stretching until April with peak volumes between December and March has coincided with the Red Sea crisis sparking a pivotal concern for exporters.

The latest game-changing development in the sector involves a strategic shift from air to sea freight, with Rwanda emerging as a key player in avocado production and export.

Seun Rasheed, CEO of SOUK Farms, explained the impact of this transition, stating, “This year we had to contend with the crisis in the Red Sea, which lengthened our delivery times.”

Despite the challenges, exporters remain optimistic, anticipating a swift resolution to the Bab Al Mandab strait crisis. Seun emphasized the solid demand in the Middle East, their primary market, and the growing interest from Europe.

“As a winter producer for avocados, we have a seasonality and pricing advantage that appeals to many markets at this time of year,” Seun Rasheed remarked.

Rwandan avocados are currently priced at approximately 2.50-3.10 USD per kilo of Hass avocado, CAF Dubai, positioning them competitively in the market.

Reflecting on the industry’s growth in Rwanda, Seun provided insightful estimates, noting that last season saw exports exceeding 3,500 tons of avocados.

This season is expected to witness exceptional performance, with over 5,000 tons valued at more than USD 10 million—an impressive 40% increase in exported volumes compared to the previous season. The future outlook is even more promising, with projections of exporting over 7,000 tons in the upcoming season.

Hass avocados dominate production, followed by Fuerte, underscoring the success of a substantial planting effort involving more than 500,000 trees annually and the participation of over 6,000 small-scale farmers.

While the Middle East remains the primary market, the successful implementation of sea freight opens new avenues for increased volumes to Europe.

SOUK Farms, a key player in this success story, is gearing up to exhibit at the Fruit Logistica trade show, showcasing the country’s avocado prowess.

Seun Rasheed expressed excitement about the potential increase in volumes to Europe, stating, “Now that we have technically proven the sea freight option, we expect a significant increase in volumes to Europe from this season onwards.”

In a groundbreaking move, Rwanda marked a significant milestone by launching a refrigerated container carrying 22.5 tons of Fuerte and Hass avocado varieties to Dubai via sea freight on January 12th.

This maiden sea shipment, backed by USAID Rwanda, the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), and key exporters like Almond Green Farm, marks a strategic exploration of the feasibility of sea freight for avocados.

This collaborative effort represents a forward-looking approach to diversifying transportation methods and securing Rwanda’s position in the global avocado market.

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