At least four tonnes of pork from Rubavu District and neighbouring areas are formally exported to DR Congo every day wirth Rwf8million, according to figures from an abattoir in Rubavu District.
This was made possible by RwandaAir's commercial flights to DR Congo which pig farmers consider a golden opportunity after boosting their market by networking with the country's buyers.
Boniface Hakuzimana, the proprietor of TREBUCO slaughterhouse said that before RwandaAir launched flights to DR Congo, they would only export a tonne of pork daily.
"RwandAir has been a sustainable bridge towards conquering the Congolese market; our export has grown four times since the carrier started flights to DRC seven months ago," he said..
In an interview with Sunday Times, Jean Claude Shirimpumpu, the chairperson of Rwanda Pig Farmers Association (RPFA) noted that they do not take for granted RwandAir's opening of new flight routes which continue to increase in the region.
"RwandAir's flights are golden opportunity which pig farmers look to grab to contribute to the country's progress by bringing in foreign currency," He noted.
Shirimpumpu went on to add that pig farmers plan to expand pork exports to West African countries.
"We look forward to negotiating with the private sector federation representatives to forge ways on the better means to export pork to the West African region especially those that RwandAir flies to," noted Shirimpumpu
He revealed that RPFA was working with Rwanda Agriculture Board to establish modern processing centres to ensure that pig products meet quality standards for the pig farmers to successfully conquer the regional market.
Rwanda targets to increase pork production from 20,000 tonnes presently to 68,000 tonnes in the next four years (2023-24), according to the livestock strategic plan.
"We are required to work more professionally and we are obviously on track as we are working tirelessly towards mobilizing pig farmers to opt for modern farming practices and our efforts are paying off," He said
Professional pig farmers who spoke to Sunday Times underscored that they were optimistic of winning the regional market r.
"We are doing professional farming thanks to various trainings we have been given. We believe exporting to regional market is quite possible since we are getting more production given that pigs that we rear deliver thrice a year," Jean Baptiste Mutangana, who owns more than 300 pigs said.
DR Congo is currently Rwanda's biggest pork market according to figures from National Agriculture Export Board.
Officials from RPFA said they export a number of piglets to DR Congo, Burundi and Tanzania among other East African region countries for breeding purposes.
So far, three pig breeds - Large White, Pietrain and Landrace - are being multiplied and distributed to farmers countrywide to spur production, according to officials.
Pig farming in Rwanda has been growing progressively after the number of pigs increased by 76% in the last six years to over 1.7 million, according to statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI).