Rwanda: Opportunity to export mushrooms to Europe and the Middle East

Investment in mushroom production in Rwanda could capture significant demand in high-value export markets, says a study by Manufacturing Africa in collaboration with various Rwandan government agencies.

Demand for imported mushrooms is strong in the European Union (EU) and the Middle East. The imported mushroom market in Europe is estimated at about 323,000 tonnes per year, which translates to about $699 million, while the Middle East requires 18,500 tonnes (valued at $100 milllion). The most imported type of mushroom in Europe is the Chinese shiitake mushroom. The African continent, too, is a market prospective producers should consider, with the region consuming about 1,800 tonnes of imported mushrooms annually, valued at $5 million.

Rwanda is well positioned to produce and export mushrooms to these markets, according to the study. Agronomic conditions in Rwanda are ideal for the cultivation of several varieties of mushrooms, including specialty mushrooms such as shiitake. Specialty mushrooms, both fresh and dried, present a particularly attractive opportunity as wholesale prices can go up to $12,000/tonne for fresh and $38,000/tonne for dried.

Financial analysis: Exporting fresh shiitake mushrooms

The export of fresh shiitake mushrooms from Rwanda to the EU can fetch a gross profit margin of 18%, assuming a wholesale price of $12,000/tonne. Production expenses are estimated at $8,000/tonne, while transport costs to the EU are approximately $1,800/tonne if the exporter takes advantage of RwandAir’s subsidised tariffs.

Financial analysis: Exporting dried shiitake mushrooms

Dried shiitake mushrooms can also be exported to the EU at reasonable margins of about 18%, at a wholesale price of $21,000. The cost to produce shiitake mushrooms in Rwanda is about $17,000/tonne, while transport outlays are in the region of $150/tonne, assuming transport from Kigali to Dar es Salaam by road ($93/tonne) and then to Europe by sea freight ($57 tonne).

Rwanda competitive advantages

According to the study, Rwanda’s competitive advantages to produce high-value crops for premium export markets include:

  • Ideal climatic conditions and seasonality advantage. Rwanda has fertile soil, a wet climate and mild temperatures.
  • Horticulture is a strategic sector for the Government of Rwanda, with several fiscal and non-fiscal incentives available.
  • Competitive labour market. Wages are $1.30 to $2.60 per day for unskilled labour and $300 to $450 per month for specialist staff.
  • RwandAir has daily flights to Europe and the Middle East that are available to export high value crops. The cost of air freight from Kigali to any destination is $1.8 per kg.
  • Improving infrastructure. Rwanda is the third country in Africa in terms of road quality with a commitment to continue improving road infrastructure. The rural feeder roads programme has enabled Rwanda to go from 1,000 km of unpaved roads in poor condition in 2012, to 1,824 km additional paved roads, and more than 2,000 km of newly rehabilitated and all-weather unpaved roads in 2018. Additionally, the government has committed to building a road within 2 km of each farm by 2028 (30,000 km of road in 2028 vs 13,350 km in 2015).

This article summarises findings from a Manufacturing Africa report. Manufacturing Africa is an FCDO funded programme looking to support investment into the manufacturing sector across Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Nigeria and Senegal. For more information about Manufacturing Africa, investment opportunities, or additional sector deep dive studies please consult the website at