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Rwanda To Lead COMESA-EAC Horticulture Accelerator Programme

by Daniel Sabiiti
3:47 pm

Launch of the COMESA-EAC Horticulture Accelerator Programme in Kigali

Launch of the COMESA-EAC Horticulture Accelerator Programme in Kigali

Rwanda has been selected to lead the implementation of a regional horticultural accelerator programme in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and East African Community (EAC) regions in the next five years.

The COMESA and EAC Horticulture Accelerator (CEHA) programme worth over $50million was launched in Kigali this May 23, 2024 witnessing the establishment of the CEHA Rwanda National Chapter- hosted by the Ministry of Commerce to ensure the success of the multi-stakeholder project.

The programme is being spearheaded by the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA)- a specialized agency of COMESA formed to address staple food production and marketing to increase market access; food production; food productivity and removal of food trade barriers.

This programme will act as a platform aimed at accelerating the growth of the fruit and vegetable subsector of the COMESA and EAC regions with priority value chains over the short term focused on avocado, onion and Irish potato- in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

ACTESA Chief Executive Officer, Dr. John Mukuka

ACTESA Chief Executive Officer, Dr. John Mukuka said that this programme, among other existing initiatives, will primarily focus on the increased production (in quantity and quality) of the above value chains to ensure food security in Rwanda but also increase export volumes as the demand especially in China and European markets.

“Rwanda will lead the implementation of the programme because it already has a horticulture strategy and the country is well organized in terms of collaboration between private sector and government,” Mukuka said during the launch event

“Rwanda made progressive developing horticulture value chains and within one year it will have the CEHA label to contribute to horticulture exports in the region,” Mukuka said

Mukuka revealed that after the first five years of implementation the success in Rwanda will be extended to other focus countries to have a regional impact.

The countries of focus programme were selected based on the overall financial contribution of the horticulture sub-sector to the economy of the countries within the Eastern part of the COMESA.

For instance, in 2023 Avocado and onions combined contributed $11.2M to the region.

The programme is expected to tap on the available potential in which officials said that avocado, onion, and Irish potato can generate a combined $230 million in additional value per year for approximately 450,000 smallholder farmers of a minimum viable farm size.

Antoine Marie Kajangwe, the Director General of Trade & Investment

Antoine Marie Kajangwe, the Director General of Trade & Investment in the Ministry of Trade and Commerce said that the programme is timely and it will enhance existing initiatives where Rwanda has challenges to improve horticulture value chains despite the diversification in export products.

For instance, Rwanda managed to shift from an 80% domination of three export crops (coffee, tea and pyrethrum)- worth $200million to diversify the sector with more horticulture products that now contribute a combined $2billion annually and leaving only 30% from the former three key export crops.

“Rwanda needs to see more diversification to meet the big market demand for horticulture products which we cannot meet alone; for example, just China alone and the continental free trade area (AfCTA) provide an immense opportunity for Rwanda and Africa,” Kajangwe said.

To attain this, the Rwanda Chapter will implement key bold steps such as improving information flow on potential opportunities for trade of horticultural products within the region and globally, strengthening Research and Development (R&D), innovation, and processing technologies to elevate product quality.

In the long run, the programme will kick starting the harmonization of horticultural sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regulations across Member States that will all have to reach a certification levels where all products from the region will bear a CEHA certification mark that will enable them sell in the AcFTA and beyond.

Robert Rukundo, the Chairman CEHA Rwanda Chapter

Currently, the CEHA programme has solicited $5million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners contributed about £600,000.

The Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Rwanda Country Manager, Jean Paul Ndagijimana said that they have $50m to support such initiatives through the ‘Tera Imbuto Nziza’ project.

Titianne Donde, the Chief of Party at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) also said that the agency will be very supportive in ensuring challenges in horticulture value chains are addressed collaboratively.

Officials in the CEHA Rwanda National Chapter

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