How fresh avocados and logistics are helping Rwanda’s agricultural sector grow
Thought Leadership featuring Sumeet Bhardwaj, CEO and Managing Director of DP World Kigali
Nutritious, delicious, and in high demand, avocados are becoming a more prominent export in African countries, and the logistics sector will be an important part of continuing to bring the freshest African produce to tables across the world.
Last year there was a boom in avocado consumption in Europe – with a rise of 11% between 2019 and 2020.
Africa grows and exports some of the best avocados in the world, but local farmers require strong logistics support to compete on a global scale and ensure their fresh produce arrives overseas in a timely manner.
“At DP World Kigali, we’ve always recognised the importance of agricultural exports from the country, which is why we’ve committed to working with farmers across Rwanda, from avocados to chilli, tea, coffee and more. We’ve already seen major growth in the number of high-quality, local products making their way overseas, directly improving the local economy and the lives of the people who live here,” said DP World Kigali CEO, Sumeet Bhardwaj.
Since DP World Kigali established a new road transport centre for delivery trucks, land transport waiting times have decreased from weeks at a time to mere days. Storage costs have been exponentially lowered and freshness of produce is preserved, saving thousands of dollars for their customers each day.
Even more vital for agricultural sector customers, is DP World Kigali’s one-stop-shop packaging centre, which allows for processing of products, packaging, labelling, and storage, further cutting cost for growers.
Rwandan avocado farmers now have easy access to the dinner tables of the UAE and other markets across the Gulf. Since 2019, DP World Kigali has been supporting avocado farmers in moving their produce through the Kigali Logistics Platform. This exposed them to a larger business network, leading to increased avocado exports, and through the maintenance of the cold chain, assured avocado quality at its destination.
As Bhardwaj notes: “A major aspect of DP World’s contribution to the growth of the logistics and agriculture sectors is limiting the costs of packaging, storage, and delivery by upgrading the dry port at Kigali. New digital processes, centralised packaging centres, and lower waiting times have meant better value for our customers and more efficient exports overall.”
“We are privileged to work with some of the best in the sector across Rwanda, from two of the best tea plantations, bespoke coffee producers, avocado farms, and more. Now these proudly Rwandan products can be appreciated locally, in Asia, the Middle East, and the Americas.”
Agriculture is at the heart of Rwanda’s economy, and both the government and key players in the logistics sector are confident that improved infrastructure will be central to further growing the nation’s export channels. Contributing almost one-third of Rwanda’s gross domestic product and employing around 68% of the country’s working population, agriculture has been made a priority sector for Rwanda’s Vision 2050.
Rwanda set itself the target of generating USD $1 billion (or 1 trillion Rwandan Francs) in annual agricultural exports by 2024, which is more than double the current output from the sector. With a move towards a technology-intensive sector to enhance commercial growing and processing initiatives, the logistics and supply chain spheres will play a key role in meeting this ambitious goal.
Through DP World Kigali’s facilities, customers have experienced strong growth, with 120 million kilograms of coffee and 100 million kilograms of tea exported last year.
Bhardwaj added, “There are also plans to expand our deliveries to more European markets and Asian countries.”
At DP World Kigali alone, new phases of development will continue to grow accessibility to global markets. This will include further industrial project management expertise for DP World’s Fast-Moving Consumer Goods customers, upgrades to the one-stop-shop – potentially for individual packaging – and working with other DP World hubs across Africa to further reduce costs related to trade.