|State-owned tea estates are being
sold to private investors.
More than 90
percent of Rwandas population of 8
million makes their living from working
the land, the vast majority as subsistence
farmers. Agriculture accounts for about
70 percent of Rwandas exports, but
needs to be developed and diversified as
there is huge potential for investment.
strategy is to maximize production and processing,
shifting the emphasis from subsistence farming
to market-based activities. The result should
be a more viable agricultural sector, higher
export revenues, an increase in rural incomes,
and improved self-sufficiency in food.
When it comes
to exports, tea and coffee are Rwandas
star performers, accounting for 60 percent
of their total exports. Higher international
coffee prices were partly responsible for
the economy achieving a growth of 6 percent
and soil conditions enable Rwanda to produce
some of the best quality tea and coffee
in the world all year round, while investment
in more factories would enable Rwanda to
export a greater variety and earn more.
estates have been privatized, including
the Sorwathe plantation, which is now American-owned.
The privatization program is continuing
to provide opportunities for foreign investors
as other state-owned estates are auctioned
tea producer and exporter is the Rwandan
tea authority, Ocir-The, which manages plantations
and factories and works with farmers to
are being encouraged to form cooperatives
looking for joint ventures in value-added
operations with investors, both internationally
and locally, says Ocir-Thes
Director, Alex Kanyankole. We want
to set up four or five factories in the
next five years.
the tea that Ocir-The produces is sold at
auctions in Mombasa, Kenya, and is subsequently
blended with other inferior teas. Now Ocir-The
has plans to blend the tea within Rwanda
and sell it as a national brand.
looking at giving our tea a brand name,
so that when it is exported it is called
Rwandan tea, explains Mr. Kanyankole.
It is already high quality, and we
are aiming to blend it and package it ourselves.
tea, coffee, and its other principal cash
crops, namely pyrethrum and flowers, Rwanda
produces around 400 tons of fresh fruits
and vegetables. Here, too, there is considerable
scope for processing, both for local and
is another area the government is eager
to expand. Rwanda is currently a net importer
of rice; however, with increased production,
it could fulfill not only its own local
needs, but export to its neighbors. The
same situation applies to the nations
corn crops. Consideration is also being
given to growing vanilla, patchouli, and
geranium on a commercial scale for the cosmetics
potential exists in the livestock sector.
Rwanda produces around 110 tons of milk
annually, but is currently able to process
only 30,000 tons of it. Processing could
give the milk a longer shelf life or be
used to produce cheese, yogurt and other
products with market potential.
policy aims to stimulate an entrepreneurial
culture, and small farmers are being encouraged
to organize themselves into cooperatives
and work more closely with the private sector,
giving them access to wider markets.
Private sector investors and donor agencies
such as USAID, the EU, and the International
Fund for International Development (IFAD)
are involved in training programs, and new
government agencies have been set up to
boost production and quality control.