Rwanda Launches Regional Program to Enhance Horticulture Sector

A regional programme meant to boost the horticulture industry in five countries in eastern and southern Africa has been launched in Rwanda. The COMESA, East African Community (EAC) Horticulture Accelerator Programme (CEHA) aims to accelerate the growth of the fruit and vegetable sub-sector in these regions.

CEHA initially focuses on three priority value chains: avocado, onion and Irish potatoes. These specific value chains face agronomic, logistical and regulatory challenges that are common to many other fruit and vegetable crops. Rwanda is the second country to launch the CEHA programme following Kenya.

The programme is being implemented through the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA ACTESA) which is a specialised arm of the 21-member COMESA bloc. The CEHA program, created in 2022 through a collaboration of public and private sector partners, aims to better coordinate policy, value chain development programs, financing, research, and development. In the short term, the priority value chains are avocado, onion and Irish potato in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

At the launch of the CEHA Rwanda National Chapter in Kigali on May 23, 2024, ACTESA Chief Executive Officer Dr John Mukuka announced that the program will facilitate the modernization of regional horticulture value chains across East Africa. This will be achieved by leveraging Rwanda’s comparative advantages, infrastructure and technology. The priority crops, selected in 2022 through surveys, were based on production capacity, impact potential, market growth and value chain competitiveness, alignment with government priorities, and the degree of development partner investment.

He pointed out that the CEHA, is a game changer as its strategic priorities have been identified by the stakeholders at the national level who will them drive these priorities at the regional level. With this bottom-up structure, everyone from the public and private sector is expected to participate and enhance the development of the horticulture sector in the region.


“CEHA is a game changer, as its strategic priorities have been identified by stakeholders at the national level, who will then drive these priorities at the regional level,” he said. “With this bottom-up structure, everyone from the public and private sectors is expected to participate and enhance the development of the horticulture sector in the region,” Dr Mukuka said.

CEHA recognises the critical role of women in the horticulture value chain and aims to empower them as key drivers of progress. This will be done by enhancing their access to resources, knowledge and market opportunities, thereby unlocking new pathways to economic empowerment and gender equality.

At the national level, the CEHA programme will establish strategic horticultural production and processing clusters with agribusiness incubators throughout five targeted countries, based on unique comparative and competitive advantages.

It will also strengthen supply chains within these clusters through farmer organizations and digitalization, using a processor and/or farmer organization as the entry point to provide financing, technical assistance, and mutually beneficial contracting with farmers in collaboration with input suppliers.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Tony Kajangwe, Director in the Ministry of Commerce, appreciated the selection of Rwanda for the CEHA project, noting that the country’s horticulture industry will now receive the much-needed support to expand.

Partners from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) led by the Country Manager Mr Jean Paul Ndagijimana and USAID Kungahara Wagura Amasoko Project Ms Titianne Donde pledged their support to the local farmers and the CEHA programme.

ACTESA aims to transform the regional horticultural industry, currently valued at USD4 billion, with the goal of doubling or tripling this value within the next 10 years. CEHA will provide opportunities, especially for landowners with access to less than one hectare of land.

High-value fruits and vegetables are considered by agriculture experts to be consistently more profitable than cereals and other common stapple crops. Moreover, the demand for these products is increasing in both domestic and export markets.