The 7th agriculture expo was officially opened on Tuesday in Mulindi by Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi under the theme “Accelerating agriculture transformation by promoting agro-processing technologies.”
The 2012 agriculture show brings together 140 exhibitors from nine countries namely Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, India, China and Rwanda. The exhibition features a wide range of innovations in the agriculture sector such as irrigation and mechanization, agro- processing and modern livestock among others.
Francois Kanimba, the Minister of Industry and Commerce, noted that there has been an increase of participants over the years since the annual fair started in 2003 because it has been very useful in the transfer of knowledge and experience.
Different agricultural products on the ground bear testimony to the big efforts made over the years to transform the sector. For instance, a bunch of a banana can today weigh over 170 kg simply due to better management of plantations and trees.
However, Prime Minister Habumuremyi challenged all concerned to put more efforts in agro-processing to add value and spur economic growth.
“It doesn’t make sense to see local factories lacking raw materials and importing them at a very high cost, while farmers decry the lack of buyers for their products,” the Prime Minister told the participants. “There is a need to make both sides complement each other. This is the basis of the national development.”
The solution, Habumuremyi noted, is for businesspeople to invest in the sector. “If it has been possible in other countries, why can’t it be possible in Rwanda?” he asked.
The Prime Minister also urged farmers to take advantage of financial services that are dedicated to supporting small and medium enterprises such as the Rural Investment Fund (RIF) dedicated to transforming rural areas and the Business Development Fund (BDF) providing SMEs with collateral to obtain loans from commercial banks.