Rwanda's agricultural exports generated more than $465 million in 2018/2019 down from $515 million in the 2017/2018 fiscal year, figures from a new report show.
The statistics from the 2018/2019 report by the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) published on its website last week imply that there was a decline of 9.7 per cent in agricultural export earnings compared to the previous year.
The drop occurred while in the previous year, agricultural exports from Rwanda had registered 44.73 per cent increased.
The report indicated that the decrease in 2018/2019 was a result of a drop in diversified and horticulture products exported to regional and EAC countries, reduced rainfall that affected production, and amount of export in tea and coffee affected by the fall in international prices.
Dairy exports experienced the highest drop - of 56 per cent in revenues - as 9.3 million kilogrammes were exported generating more than $9 million in 2018/2019 against 17.5 million kilogrammes exported.
James Biseruka, Managing Director of Inyange Industries Ltd told Sunday Times that the decrease of Rwanda's dairy exports was partly attributed to losing Rwanda's dairy market in Uganda and Kenya.
"A lot of milk was being exported to Uganda and Kenya as they accounted for about 90 per cent of milk export," he said.
On the way forward, Biseruka said "we are engaged in looking for other export market alternatives such as in DR Congo, and Central Africa," he said.
The report said that the policy imposed on small traders in DR Congo of putting their imported products in bonded houses was also among the factors that drove down Rwanda's dairy exports.
Decline in tea and coffee exports
Tea and coffee have been Rwanda's major export crops for many years.
Tea exports revenues decreased by 5 per cent from 88 million in 2017/2018 to 83 million in 2018/2019. However, exports volumes increased by 10 per cent from 27 tonnes to 30 tonnes.
Coffee revenues decreased from 69 million in 2017/2018 to 68 million in 2018/2019 whereas the export quantities increased by 6 per cent from 20,000 tonnes to 21,000 tonnes in 2018/2019.
The average price of Rwanda Coffee was $3.41 per kilogramme in 2017/2018, which reduced by 7 per cent to $3.18 a kilogramme in 2018/2019.
For tea, a kilogramme was sold at $3.17 a kilogramme and it reduced to $2.73 a kilogramme in 2018/2019.
Other factors that the report cited include Made in Rwanda Policy that affected exports of hides and skins - a factor which it described as good as it encouraged their use to make leather products locally.
For hides and skin, more than 1 million kilogrammes were exported and generated over $1 million in 2018/2019 from over 3.4 million kilogrammes which generated $5.8 million in 2017/2018.
The share of traditional agricultural exports was 33.9 per cent - or $157 million - of the total agricultural export revenues, whereas the non-traditional crops accounted for 66.1 per cent - or $307 million earnings - in the year under review.
Meanwhile, NAEB said that agricultural exports revenues are anticipated to increase to $656.7 million in the forthcoming fiscal year 2019-2020.