23/10/2013

Renewing Agribusiness in Rwanda


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Last Wednesday, 16 October 2013, Kigali Farms hosted (re)New Agribusiness in Rwanda, in partnership with The White Onion, to shine a spotlight on the role the private sector is playing in the development of the agriculture sector in Rwanda.

Inspired by the words of Dr. Adesina, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the event opened with a short discussion about why agriculture is a business, not a development program. The audience agreed that agriculture is a business because:

-Agriculture is full of profit-making actors and enterprises, from small niche market farmers to cooperatives and associations, to multinational corporations.
-Agriculture has manifold value chains with multiple actors from farm to table, adding value and making margins.
-Agriculture is competitive, segmented and consistently transforming itself.
-Agriculture is food, which is a product with high demand

Audience and presenters alike agreed that agribusiness must not be an "initiative,” a "project” or a "program,” but rather that agribusiness is full of viable and feasible profit-generating activities that are often overlooked or underappreciated. Regardless, each of the agribusinesses presenting their stories shared how they tackle diverse opportunities in Rwanda.

Interestingly, both The White Onion and FAIM Africa Ltd. discussed seed production and cultivation techniques in their presentations, but from very different perspectives. The White Onion espouses the need to return to nature using permaculture growing techniques that utilize intercropping and other growing methods that replicate nature. Their Juru Park farm will grow commercial crops in this manner. FAIM Africa Ltd., on the other hand, applies technologically intensive procedures in laboratories to develop high quality and tissue cultures that produce highly productive crops for farmers.

Shifting the focus from specialized activities to a value-chain approach, Laurent Demuynck, founder and CEO of Kigali Farms, exposed the audience to the manifold opportunities for mushrooms to impact the health and wealth of Rwandans. The current operations of Kigali Farms seems only to be a precursor for the potential of fungi as a robust sector in the big agribusiness picture, affecting the country from the household level as they are impacted by improved nutrients in their diets, to the farmer level as incomes increase through rapid mushroom harvests and high yields.

What all three agribusinesses shared was their commitment to fulfill social goals through the private sector. They each share a vision for value addition – whether it is achieved through higher productivity, healthier food, increased efficiency, or food processing – and each company will fulfill this vision in a unique way.

Kigali Farms would like to thank its co-host, The White Onion, and fellow presenter, FAIM Africa Ltd., for their participation and thought-provoking presentations.

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