RWANDA - A Rwf 40 million horticulture training centre has been opened in Rulindo District as part of the efforts to improve the sector.
The centre will serve as a training facility for horticulture sector stakeholders and is under the Smart Adaptive Sustainable Horticulture (SMART Horticulture) project, according to the agriculture ministry.
The project is the first of its kind in Rwanda and comes with a greenhouse, improved technologies including soil sampling, pest control, irrigation, and computerised climate control facilities, as well as seed testing.
The centre is run by a local horticulture firm, Rwanda Best Limited.
While launching the facility last week, the agriculture ministry and Dutch officials reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen co-operation between Rwanda and The Netherlands to boost horticulture and the agriculture sector in general.
Speaking during the event, Frederique Maria de Man, the Dutch ambassador to Rwanda, said the facilities at the training centre will serve the wider horticulture sector.
SMART is a public-private partnership aimed at making horticulture technologies affordable and adaptable for farmers in Africa.
It is supported by government and leading horticulture companies and academic institutions from The Netherlands.
Tony Nsanganira, the State Minister for Agriculture, lauded the flourishing partnership between Rwanda and The Netherlands, adding that interventions like these are essential to build the capacity of the private sector and make it more productive.
“We believe in the private sector and we want it to drive the whole process,” said Nsanganira, pledging the government’s full support to these initiatives.
He pointed out that horticulture is important to Rwanda, saying the sector has the potential of, not only in increasing the country’s exports, but also reducing malnutrition among the population, especially in rural areas.
The event was attended by Dutch businesspeople, representing 18 companies, 13 of which are interested in horticulture, and the other five in livestock. The Dutch delegation was in the country last week, and interacted with the local private sector to promote trade relations between the two countries.
Rwanda’s horticulture sector is expected to fetch about $9 million this year, up from $3 million in 2010. The sector contributes around 3 per cent of GDP, and covers about 6 per cent of the arable land in the country.
The Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Geraldine Mukeshimana, last week urged stakeholders to embrace innovative ideas that will boost the horticulture industry.
Last week, a regional conference on promoting innovation and trade in the horticulture sector called on industry players to embrace innovative approaches to increase production and satisfy the current market demand.
Players say rudimentary farming methods still threaten the sector’s growth. The industry faces challenges, like high cost of transport, poor infrastructure and lack of cold storage facilities.
November 30, 2015; http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2015-11-30/194862/