Rwandan farmers have a new money making crop, macadamia, which has high potential of improving their lives.
The crop, maturing after five years, is raw material for high end nuts, butter and ice cream.
Farm Gate East Africa (EPZ) Limited, a Kenyan company specialising in Macadamia Nuts and Cashew Nuts processing and packaging said it will invest $ 15 million in macadamia farming in Rwanda for the next ten years.
The investment includes supporting macadamia farmers to grow enough for export to USA, South Africa, Kenya and other potential markets.
The firm is also planning to build a processing plant in Rwanda, which will allow it to export finished products.
“It is a good opportunity for our farmers; the plant requires a few input and procures huge returns,” Ambassador George Bill Kayonga, the Chief Executive Officer of National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB) has told KT Press.
Macadamia growers plant seeds and wait for four to five years before harvesting. Every hectare accommodates 200 trees which can be mixed with other crops.
At harvest, they sell nuts at Rwf900 per kilogram. One macadamia tree yields up to 50 kilogram per season-once every year.
“We realized Rwanda has a favorable climate for the plant,” says Mahomed Jassat, CEO for EPZ adding, “An investment climate is also favorable in Rwanda than in many African countries.”
Besides the two factors however, Farm Gate is expecting a huge profit in the next ten years. Jassat said, they hope to reap over $100 million, from their $15 million capital.
The world is relying on 45% of macadamia demand, which, according to Gatarayiha Norse Elizé, a macadamia grower, is an unlimited opportunity for Rwandan farmers.
Currently, Rwanda has about 120,000 trees on 600 hectares of macadamia whose products are exported row.
The country has started a One Million Macadamia Campaign, which intends to plant one million trees (5000 hectares) in one year, to satisfy Farm Gate demand.
The campaign was launched today in Rwabicuma sector, Nyanza district in Southern Rwanda, where 1000 trees were planted on five hectares.
Rwabicuma, with potential 500 hectares for macadamia, has a chance to host a processing plant, according to Francois Muhinzi, in charge of crops in NAEB.
Rwanda encourages farmers across the country to consolidate their land to grow macadamia intensively.
Trees will be distributed free of charge by government through districts to registered cooperatives. An individual can only be given trees if they grow at least one hectare of macadamia.