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26 years after liberation: a mirror for agri-export sector

Over the last 26 years, the agriculture sector has played a tremendous role in improving livelihoods of Rwandans and sustaining the country’s economy. Major contributors of the economic transformation include tea and coffee sector, and this was the case since their introduction in the country by colonial regimes. 

Agriculture export income increased from US$70 million before 1994 to US$421.1 million today. By 1994, only coffee, tea & pyrethrum were considered cash crops. It is during the post 1994 genocide against Tutsi period that other crops such as those comprised in horticulture took part of the loop.

Annual tea production grew from 11,000 metric tons of made tea in 1994 to 32,343 metric tons of made tea to date. Annual tea revenue was only US$17.5 million 26 years ago, but this cash crop now generates USD 92.54 million.

Coffee revenues have increased from US$38 million in 1994 to over USD 62.4 million. Currently, the country counts 301 coffee washing stations while before 1994 the whole production was traded as ordinary coffee. A kilogram of coffee that would sell for US$1,75 before 1994 while its current price is around 14$ (Alibaba and Amazon platforms).

With Pyrethrum the country could generate US$0.7 million before 1994. In the just ended fiscal year (2019/2020), the pyrethrum sector fetched US$5 million.

With introduction of new commodities like flowers, macadamia, chili and essential oil in addition to French beans and avocadoes, the country is known as fresh produce exporter. The income from horticulture sector in 1994 was US$0.3 million and improved to become US$28.2 million as of today, floriculture included.

Strategies to diversify products for export and add value for more income are in place and will remain key in advancing the mandate of National Agricultural Export Development Board.