Local flower firms eye new markets in Europe

The National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) is counting on the ongoing International Floriculture and Horticulture Trade Fair (IFTF) in Vijfhuizen, the Netherlands to gain new markets in Europe and elsewhere, Pie Ntwari, the NAEB head of communication and public relations, has said.

Ntwari said the annual exhibition is an opportunity for Rwanda’s floriculture and horticulture sector players to establish strong partnerships that will help widen market reach and boost exports.

Local flower firms, Bella Flowers, Bright Harvest and Bloom Hills, represented Rwanda at the event and are showcasing the country’s potential in the two sectors looking to penetrate more European markets. Ntwari said the three flower growers were showcasing varieties of flowers grown in Rwanda with a goal of attracting more buyers.

“They are also creating partnerships with potential investors from across the world at the exhibition,” he told The New Times.

Government has identified floriculture as one of the sectors that could help Rwanda increase export revenues in the short to medium-term as the country continues to diversify its export products.

Rwanda is counting on the Gishari Flower Park and Bella Flowers to increase its flower exports as part of export promotion and diversification strategy.

Donatille Nibagwire, the managing director of FLORIS, a horticulture export firm, said exposing local companies to international markets enables them to learn and understand the industry.

Nibagwire urged sector players to focus on value addition, branding and packaging to become more profitable.

“Being able to participate in international trade fairs provides companies opportunity to gain skills and expertise as well as contacts that are crucial for the development of the sector,” she said.

Shungo Harada, the managing director Bloom Hills Rwanda, a Japanese flower export firm in Musanze, said such exposure is a “great opportunity for local companies to understand market dynamics and acquire flower varieties that are competitive on the market.

“There is need to introduce more flower varieties as one of the ways to make the sector more competitive and profitable,” he added.

Figures from NAEB indicate that flower export revenue was at $1,243,427 (about Rwf1.1 billion) last fiscal year, up from from $13,428 (Rwf11.5 million in the previous year. Overall, the flower industry has been growing at a low rate of about 5 per cent over the past years in terms of production.

In a related development, NAEB is currently mapping land that is suitable for horticulture as it seeks more investors. The agency is targeting a total of 2,000 hectares that will be dedicated to export-oriented production.

Rwanda exported $114,058 worth of flowers last fiscal year.

Currently, Rwanda sells almost all its flowers at the Amsterdam Auction where Floramatt, Bloom Hills and Bright Harvest are already registered as members of Royal FloraHolland.

Bella Flowers is in the process to be registered as a member of this Royal FloraHolland.