In a bid to improve the competitiveness in fruits and vegetables sector, the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) has carried out a technology audit to establish currently available technology and technological capability.
The audit was carried out between February and June on 56 firms mainly Small and Medium Enterprises dealing in Fruits and Vegetables.
The tech audit looked at technology and production, market, policies and regulation and on human resources and skills development to show the technological gaps and how to bridge them.
The audit aimed at assessing the potential for upgrading, extending and optimizing fruits and Vegetable firms to increase production for both local consumption and export.
It also aimed at updating the database of firms involved in processing or value addition to fruits and vegetables to establish the types and significance of products processed as well as the technology used.
Fruits and vegetables value chain is some of the drivers to boost made in Rwanda programme and contribute to the exports growth by 17% annually as outlined in the Seven Year Government Programme (7YGP).
Also, the 7-year Government Program (2017-2024) aims to establish Rwanda as a globally competitive knowledge-based economy, which will, in turn, create 214,000 decent and productive jobs annually.
According to the findings from the audit report only 19% of the production of the fruit production is processed while only 1.4% of the vegetable produce is processed, calling for the need for value addition to both products.
According to Kampeta Sayinzoga, NIRDA Director General, technology audits such as one of fruits and vegetables are very important to assess the way factories operate to add value and seek ways to support them through technology acquisition.
“We cannot expect our factories to produce quality and cost-competitive products if they do not use modern technologies” Kampeta said.
“Technology audits are important for all stakeholders to understand which technology our manufacturers currently use and assess if it is the most appropriate for them, the most up to date, and if we have the required skills to use it to produce quality products,” she added.
Kampeta noted that after the validation of the technology audit, NIRDA will provide direct support to selected firms in the value chain through open calls programme.
Through the programme, the firms in the selected value chain will be invited by NIRDA to compete for technical and business advisory support and financial concessional support to buy upgraded equipment with advanced technology.
NIRDA’s Open call program support for selected enterprises and industries such as acquisition and adaptation of specific technologies needed to improve their competitiveness in the form of equipment, software, or related investments.
“NIRDA will also work with other government agencies to address identified policy and operational bottlenecks that the firms in the value chains face on a daily basis. NIRDA is in the business of helping industries be more competitive by ensuring that they have the best technology and strong business capabilities” Kampeta noted.
Rwanda’s Vision 2050, Pillar 3 which is “The Economic Transformation Pillar” aims to accelerate private-sector-led economic growth and increased productivity.