In Rwanda, the demand for fruits outpaces the supply, forcing the country to rely on imports especially for mangos, apples, and oranges. Despite the shortage on the local market, Rwanda exported 8,667 tonnes of fruits between July 2019 and June 2020, generating over $7.5 million, according to figures from the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB). This demonstrates the untapped potential for the nascent horticulture industry.
At this time, however, more farmers are now joining the industry after realising that there’s a steady demand for fruits. Justin Uwitonze, whose passion for fruit farming dates back to 2014, produces passion fruits on one hectare of land in the Nyakariro Sector, Rwamagana District. Uwitonze: “We are expanding our fruit farms due to the high demand.”
Others growers are turning to crops like oranges, mangoes, and avocados—which are resistant to drought and can last for up to 30 years before replanting. The margins for fruit farmers are partly driven up by the fact that they enjoy some government subsidies, including on seeds and fertilisers.
Still, some farmers say that the business is capital intensive -demanding a huge financial outlay and patience- which many are not willing to risk. But horticulture is among the industries that enjoy government and donor support. Farmers who demonstrate the potential for growth can receive a grant equivalent to their investment while others receive seedlings to begin their agribusiness journey.