Figures from the Ministry of Agriculture show that Rwanda imports more sugar and cereals than it exports
Rwanda spends about $200 million on food imports every year, according to the State Minister for Agriculture, Tony Nsanganira.
Speaking yesterday, Nsanganira said the country’s expenditure on food imports “unfortunately keeps increasing, but we are working hard to see these figures reduce.”
“We mostly import processed food because our industries are yet to provide all that we need. We still have to import and we spend some millions on those food commodities such as sugar, wheat, rice … which cost us in a range of about $150 million to $200 million annually,” Nsanganira said.
The 2015 food security and vulnerability report released by the ministry indicates that formal trade of cereals showed a “negative” trade balance in both 2013 and 2014.
The balance was about -268,000 metric tonnes in 2014. The total production of cereals in Rwanda in 2014 was about 583000 metric tonnes.
This year’s TICAD summit will also see the launch of Japan’s Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa, which will establish a framework for African countries to collaborate to improve their nutrition status.
In 2014, the top three importers of cereals were Bakhresa Grain Milling, Pembe Flour Mills and the ministry. The first two are active in agro-processing, while the latter focuses on whole grains and rebuilding the national strategic grain reserve among other priorities.
“We are closely working with the ministry of trade and industry to see how our industries can get raw materials and increase food productivity. We have also set up a second sugar factory to increase sugar production to 100,000 metric tonnes, which will make us self-sufficient starting 2018,” the minister said.
He described as “very unfortunate” that the country still imports rice, after seeing the heavy investment the government has invested in rice production.
But still, our goal is to be self-sufficient in rice production by 2018, he added.
However, Nsanganira admitted that it is “still difficult” for Rwanda to have sufficient wheat production, “because it is not the major food crop, so it competes with other staple crops such as beans, maize and cassava. But for the long term, we are working on land availability for wheat, which will take a long time.”