RWANDA – Rwanda’s horticulture industry is making significant strides towards boosting the economy and creating job opportunities, particularly for youth and women.

The progress is evident in the second phase of the Horti-Export project, initiated in 2021 and funded by GIZ under the “Special Initiative – Decent Work for a Just Transition.”

Agriculture leaders gathered on June 28, 2024, to discuss the achievements and future of Rwanda’s horticulture sector. The event, organized by IDH Rwanda, focused on leveraging collective knowledge to address challenges and seize opportunities in horticulture. Participants shared experiences and celebrated the progress made under the project.

Dr. Chantal Ingabire, Director General of Planning at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources emphasized the ministry’s commitment to transforming agriculture from subsistence to a market-oriented sector.

This transformation aligns with Rwanda’s Vision 2050, which aims to increase agricultural exports significantly.

“We aim to increase from 875 million US dollars to 1.9 billion US dollars in exports by 2030. Despite the ambitious target and complex approach, we believe it’s achievable due to our plans to ensure a consistent supply of high-quality products,” said Dr. Ingabire.

She stressed the importance of private sector engagement and supporting smallholder farmers and SMEs to achieve these goals.

The development of the horticulture value chain is seen as a significant opportunity for income and job creation.

The ministry’s Strategic Plan for Agriculture Transformation (PSTA) aims to create at least 600,000 jobs for youth in the agrifood systems within the next five years, up from the current target of 400,000 jobs.

Dr. Thomas Kirsch, Country Director for GIZ, highlighted the sector’s potential, noting its contribution to 26% of Rwanda’s GDP and its employment of over 60% of the working-age population.

He stated, “While the export potential has historically been dominated by coffee and tea, recent years have shown that Rwanda’s horticulture sector holds tremendous promise.”

The Horti-Export project has already created over 1,000 new permanent jobs and increased export revenues for partner companies from 25 to 55.6 metric tons per week. It has also improved working conditions for over 6,300 SMEs and farm workers.

Gerald Habimana, representing the Kojyamunya Cooperative, shared his experience as a project beneficiary.

Initially focused on the local market, the cooperative shifted to international markets after adopting modern farming techniques and irrigation.

“After receiving training, we began growing chili in 2019. Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, we kept on growing but in small quantities,” said Habimana. With support from partners, they successfully produced 108 tonnes in the first half of the year.

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