Rwanda exported over 7,000 tons of rice to East Africa last year

Rwandan farmers have a reason to smile – There is growing appetite for their rice in the East African community bloc.

The formal export of rice grains from Rwanda has increased by 230 times in the 2015-2016 seasons, and its revenue increased by 468 times compared to the previous season (2014-2015).

Farmers had experienced a bad season in the first period where rice export represented   863,301 kilograms (863 tons) including just 29,750 kilograms (29 tons) of formal export. Rice generated a total $ 844,376.

In contrast, the just ended season (2015-2016), export of rice marked the highest increase ever with a total 7,433,302 kilograms (7,000 tons), including a very high proportion from formal import (6,832 tons) and a total earning of $ 5,185,845.

Antoine Habyarimana, President of rice farmers’ federation which grows rice on 1543 hectares in Bugarama sector, Rusizi district told KT Press;

“In the last two years, we were able to grow over 6 tons of rice per hectare. This had never happened before,” he said.

“After harvest, we sell to accredited wholesalers after giving every cooperative member rice for family consumption.”

Increase of cereal export cuts across all the grains, with also maize earning the country $ 1.3 Million from over 5,600 tons  for the period of 2015-2016, compared to the period 2014-2014 when just $716,997 was fetched from more than 3,400 tons.

Christine Murebwayire, the head of Chamber of Agriculture at Rwanda Private sector federation told KT Press, that the positive trend in grain export is attributed to “partnership between our chamber and the Rwanda Agriculture Board”.

She said the institution helped farmers to identify good seeds and to link up with recognized fertilizer distributors.

For that fact, she said, rice production increased to 5-5.5 tons per hectare in 2015-2016, compared to 3.5 tons in the previous season.

The region, she said is the best trade partner, with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on top.

Despite growth in grain, their export with added value declined compared to the previous season.

For example, export of maize flour amounted to 20, 700 tons, earning the country $10.4 Million in 2016, compared to more than 24,800 tons which generated $ 15.Million in 2015.

“Burundi is the biggest importer of our maize and sorghum flour, and you know trading with Burundi has been hectic since 2015,” said Murebwayire.

Meanwhile, this season, rice farmers are not as confident as they were last year, following bad weather in season A.

Habyarimana said, their projection is declining to 4.5 tons per hectare, compared to 4.7 tons per hectare, the national average.

In general, the national expectation in rice production was reviewed downward from 5.8 tons in 2015-2016.

Decline of rice production will give more chance to foreign brands, including Tanzanian and Pakistani rice.