Agriculture and Animal Resources Minister Ildephonse Musafiri has outlined potential investment opportunities yet to be tapped into at different levels of the value chain.
In an exclusive interview with The New Times, the Minister indicated that one of the potential investment opportunities is in the country's livestock sector.
He said: "We have more than two million cattle in this country. But we don't have the capacity to process milk to meet our demand. We can only process 240,000 liters. Our capacity to process milk and cheese is still low and it presents an opportunity for investors to come and add value and to do packaging that is affordable for our people, and then think of exporting."
Climate-resilient agriculture is also a big investment opportunity for the private sector, he noted, pointing to elements that include irrigation or mechanization services. Climate resilient agriculture embraces a broad set of practices that sustainably increase productivity and resilience, reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions where possible, and enhance the attainment of food security. Currently, only 10 percent of Rwanda's arable land is irrigated. The country seeks to increase agriculture mechanization to 50 percent by 2024.
Post-harvest situations, he noted, also present potential investment opportunities.
"If you're not interested in the primary production, or in any inputs, you can invest in agro-processing, for instance. We need food processing, food handling, we need investors in storage and so on," he said.
He said there is a need for investment to acquire proper ways of harvesting, drying, and conveying in storage. This can be done for beans, cassava, fresh product vegetables, and fruits.
Low production, he emphasized, holds a great investment opportunity given that 20 percent of Rwandans are still food insecure.
"For example, we've gaps in food crops. Rwandans are increasingly consuming more maize and 'kawunga' [maize meal also known as posho, ugali, and other names]. But our average production per year is around 500,000 metric tonnes of maize yet we consume between 600,000 and 800,000 metric tonnes a year. That speaks to an untapped potential," he said.
Another example, he said, is rice production.
The country can only produce less than 100,000 metric tonnes per year yet people consume way more rice, around 400,000 metric tonnes importing all the rice from Tanzania, Pakistan, India, or elsewhere.
Rwandans consume more than a million metric tonnes of Irish potatoes yet the country produces around 700,000 metric tonnes a year revealing a huge investment opportunity.
"We're the biggest consumers of beans and on average we don't produce more than 500,000 metric tonnes but we eat around 800,000 metric tonnes of beans every year. That means that even for beans, where we are called the top consumers, we still have a gap," Musafiri added.
He also urged investors to consider producing seeds and seed distribution.
"You can even invest in IT systems to trade. Another example is that we import most mineral fertilizers, almost 70,000 metric tonnes a year. Why don't the private people try to invest in the local manufacturing of fertilizers, for example? Why should we keep importing it while it's possible to have it from here?"
Additionally, he noted that there is still room for investment in the tea sector; tea processing, and tea packaging.
"We still have room to grow coffee. Most of our coffee (trees) are old, so we are encouraging the private sector to grow coffee. We need to improve both tea and coffee production in volume, but also in quality."
As the global market is also getting more interested in Rwanda's passion fruit, and chili, he said, investors should think of exportation.