Alibaba to open up China to local horticulture exporters

Tuesday February 5 2019


Horticulture exporters are upbeat about Alibaba’s Tmall international market place. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

Local horticulture exporters are optimistic about the chance to sell their products on Alibaba’s Tmall international market place.

But, they are banking on RwandAir’s plans to fly to China as this will offer cheaper and faster cargo options especially for fresh produce.

President Paul Kagame and Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma signed the electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) project last October and a lot of progress has been made.

For example, Rwandan coffee is sold on the platform and is a great seller.

The plan is to increase the products sold on the platform to include processed beef, crayfish and other horticulture goods like avocados, French beans, chilli pepper and other fruits and vegetables.

Twahirwa Dieudonne, the managing director of Gashora farm which produces chilli oils — who sits on the committee in charge of fast-tracking implementation of the eWTP, said they are only waiting on import permits from Chinese clients to start.

He added that the Chinese market looks promising for selling huge volumes of export products.

“Currently, we are using ships to transport our goods, but we shall need cheaper and faster means for goods that are needed fresh like habanero sauce,” said Mr Twahirwa. “I currently have a $2 million order to supply chilli sauce to Chinese clients in May,” he added.

In a bid to support local exports, RwandAir came up with a shipping discount of $0.95 per kg and exporters have been taking advantage of the reprieve.

In 2017, the horticulture sector generated up to $21 million in revenues up from $12 million in 2016.

Majority of the country’s horticulture products, which include vegetables like French beans, hot pepper, snow peas and fruits like avocado, passion fruit and pineapples, are exported to markets in France, UK, Netherlands and Dubai.

The government expects to generate $140 million from horticulture by 2020 and currently, the sector contributes three per cent to GDP.

The European Union recently signed an MoU with the government to boost the growth of the agriculture sector.