Workers unload bags of rice on January 19, 2011 at the Port of Abidjan where 80% of Ivory Coast's exports transit. EU-registered ships have been barred from dealing with Ivory Coast's main cocoa ports in line with sanctions over the nation's controversial November presidential poll. The European Union last weekend slapped sanctions on outcast incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo and 84 of his associates, as well as 11 economic entities in the world's top cocoa producer. AFP PHOTO/ ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers unload bags of rice on January 19, 2011 at the Port of Abidjan where 80% of Ivory Coast's exports transit. EU-registered ships have been barred from dealing with Ivory Coast's main cocoa ports in line with sanctions over the nation's controversial November presidential poll. The European Union last weekend slapped sanctions on outcast incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo and 84 of his associates, as well as 11 economic entities in the world's top cocoa producer. AFP PHOTO/ ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

Rwanda expects to promote and encourage value addition in the tea sector in order to double tea export volumes and revenues, Agriculture Minister Gerardine Mukeshimana said on Tuesday.

Mukeshimana made the remarks at an event marking four-year achievements of a tea factory in Gicumbi district, Northern Province.

Mulindi tea factory is managed by Wood Foundation Africa, a Scottish-based charity through their regional philanthropic investment vehicle, East Africa Tea Investments.

“We want tea farmers and investors to focus more on increasing the volume of tea exports through value addition, high-quality specialist tea plants and product diversification,” Mukeshimana said. “The government embarked on a program to privatize tea estates in order to improve production output and quality levels in the sector.”

She said tea is one of Rwanda’s biggest foreign exchange earners and that adding value to the tea produced will double export volumes and receipts, and cut the country’s trade deficit.

Rwanda is diversifying its two main cash crops, tea and coffee, in a bid to increase exports and achieve its export promotion strategy and create thousands of jobs, said the minister.

She reiterated the government’s commitment to prioritizing investment in the agriculture sector to increase production and ensure food security.

Rwanda’s tea sector produces an annual 23,000 metric tons of dry tea.

Under the country’s second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy, Rwanda targets to increase land for tea plantations from 25,547 hectares to 38,000 hectares.

According to the ministry of finance, Rwanda managed to cut its trade deficit to 885.35 million U.S. dollars as of August 2017, down 24.9 percent from 1179.10 million dollars of a year ago. Enditem

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