Stevia plant to contribute $14M to total exports

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Stevia plant to contribute $14M to total exports

Stevia plant

There   is optimism that the country’s  export  bill is  likely  to  get a  boost  of  $14 million  from the  Stevia dry  leaves exports.

The dry leaves from Stevia   plant that was introduced in the country three years ago is  seen  yet  as another  crop  after tea and coffee to  contribute  highest  receipts  to  total  exports  by end of   next year.

Dorian Banks, Managing Director Stevialife Ltd says that the revenues will be generated from the 1000 hectares that are expected to be planted by end of this year moving from the current 50 hectares.

“What is limiting us to reach the 1000 hectares is land but as soon as we get we expect to expand more to meet the high market demand,” said Banks during the signing of Memorandum of understanding between stevialife ltd and the Ministry of Trade and industry on Wednesday.

Through  an  understanding   with the  government, the company is expected  to  provide  seeds to  farmers, and   extend  inputs such as fertilizers  to  increase  production while  government will  work on  policies as well as mobilizing farmers  among others.

Banks says that there is currently high demand for the   sweetener   that is currently being used in   most soft drinks around the world, something that creates optimism for farmers in Rwanda to   reap more from agriculture.

Accordingly, farm gate   price  per  kilo of Stevia  leaves goes for  between rwf 500-700 which is  higher than  coffee and tea and  almost   triple the price  of rice  per  kilo.

The plant    that produces leaves   which are used as sweeteners around the world and is   preferred because of its negligible impact of the body’s blood glucose was introduced in the country three years ago.

Bruce Irambona, manager   for Stevialife says that  the  company  is planning to set  up  extraction   factory  to  extract  crude  from  the dry leaves  by end  of  2017, something  that is likely to  push export revenues from the crop to  US$140million.

“But this will be realized when we get   enough production to satisfy the factory which we are now working on through   extending the seeds to farmers,”   he   added.

In the same period (2017), the crop farming is expected to generate over 2500 permanent jobs and 2500   temporary jobs thus contributing to the country’s target of fighting unemployment.

The government  has been working   increasing  export bill to offset the  current widening  trade imbalance that  increased by 8 percent  last year  compared to  2013 from  Us$1.5 billion to  US$1.7 billion.

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About the author

Olive Ndaka is the Junior Editor for RwandaEye. An investor and young entrepreneur, she is a quick learner and has contributed many articles for RwandaEye in Kinyarwanda.

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