How Rwandan Farmers Benefit From Agricultural Trade With China

Credit: Tim Smith via Ventures Africa

“The good relationship between China and Rwanda has enabled farmers like me to realize our dreams. The Chinese market is quite unique when compared to the rest because they accept a wide range of goods without big complications”, Diego Twahira, a chili farmer in Rwanda, who has been exporting his produce to China since 2019. Though he exports to Europe, he views the Chinese market as steady.

This relationship was sealed by President Xi Jinping’s visit to Rwanda in 2018. Twahira signed a life-changing agreement in September of 2020, which was worth $100 million with China’s GK International Enterprises to supply 50,000 tons of chili annually for five years. This deal has enabled him to expand his farm from 6 hectares to 16 hectares, and also has led to the creation of employment opportunities for people in Rwanda.

Twahira also adds that they are waiting for Rwanda and the Chinese government to sign a protocol that will allow them to export dry chili to China. This he believes will improve their business.

Coffee farmers are also gaining access to Chinese markets, thanks to Jack Ma.

Jack Ma signed agreements with Paul Kagame in 2017, one of which was making Rwanda the first African country to join Ali Baba’s Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP).

Indeed, Rwanda coffee farmers have attested to the profitability of eWTP. Simeon Ngendahayo, manager of West Hills Coffee, says, “I have sold coffee to China through the electronic platform five times now, and it all gets finished and I got paid instantly”.

He admits that “……. selling coffee in China was not easy at first……”, but it has all changed with the eWTP.

The Kigali government reported in May that 1.5 tons of Rwandan coffee beans were sold out in seconds on the eWTP.

In addition to bolstering trade of agricultural produce, China through the China Geo-Engineering Cooperation (CGC) has constructed the Muyanza dam in the Rulindo district in Central Rwanda.

The dam has attracted a number of reputable Rwandan agribusiness to grow high-value crops such as chili pepper/ ginger in the area, due to irrigation water it supplies.

Though Rwanda exports more agricultural produce to China, it also imports more Chinese goods. Rwanda’s imports from China have skyrocketed from $157 million in 2017 to $628 million in 2019.

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