The economy of Burundi is mainly rural and depends strongly on the agriculture sector. This sector accounts for more than 90 % of the working population and more than 50 % of the GDP
The Government Strategy on the Agriculture sector development (National Plan on Agricultural Investment 2012-2017) is centred in particular on measures for structuring project implementation, improvement of the productivity, development of the agro-industry, strengthening of institutions, professionalization of the producers and promotion of the initiatives geared to ensure for all Burundians food security.
The investment opportunities in this sector are as follow:
Coffee: the privatization of the sector is already in progress. 13 over 133 washing stations subjected to bidding were privatized by the Government through a strategy elaborated in collaboration with the World Bank and the operationalization of an Authority for regulation of the sector (ARFIC).
Tea: Nowadays Burundi produces tea of very good quality and increasing in quantity. Thanks to the EU financial support, the Burundi Office for Tea (O.T.B) rehabilitated a number of tea factories.
The objective of the Government is to open the sector to private investors (national and foreign). On the crest of Congo particularly Bururi, Muramvya and Mwaro, thousands of hectares are available for tea growing and have been preserved for that end.
Cotton: Burundi produces some cotton very appreciated on the international market for its quality. The Cotton Management Company (COGERCO) buys cotton produced by the population to whom it gives seeds and fertilizers.
In the plain of Imbo, we find wide lands which can be used to establish new cotton plantations. With the re-launch of the activities of the former COTEBU textile industry, today in the hands of private investors, the Burundian cotton has an outlet at hand!
Palm oil: According to the Palm Oil Authority (O.H.P), the palm grove of Rumonge has been rejuvenated and new plantations are emerging in the Rumonge region.
Burundi is determined to substantially increase the palm oil production in the coming years. Therefore, the Government encourages investors to develop palm plantation in the plain of Moso. The palm oil is not only produced for domestic market needs, but also for regional and international market. The main purpose being to produce as much palm oil as possible like in Malaysia with the objective of developing refineries as to bring the country into the club of biofuel producing countries.
Sugar cane: The SOSUMO national Sugar Company located in the plain of Moso has become a successful reference. So far, sugar cane produced by SOSUMO is of a very good quality and is greatly appreciated by consumers in the region. Though SOSUMO produces only 20 000 tons of powdered sugar a year, the available land in Burundi and in the neighbouring Tanzanian could allow SOSUMO to achieve up to an annual output of 40 000 tons. This is the reason why the Government has decided to open up the capital of SOSUMO to foreign investors.
Additional to the above products that contribute significantly to the growth of the Burundi economy, IPA encourages investors to exploit other promising sectors including:
Horticulture: Taking into accounts its fertile soil, sustained rainfall, abundant sunshine and cheap labor, Burundi encourages investors interested to producing flowers in the Bujumbura plain or Bugarama hills for local market as well as for export.
Fruits and vegetables: Bugarama, Mugara or Cibitoke regions provide to visiting consumers with surprising opportunities to buy various range of fruits and vegetables at a very cheap price and throughout the year. These are clear signs of the enormous potential of these regions for investors willing to develop large-scale fruit and vegetable plantations. Needless to add that investors could also explore setting up fruit processing and conservation units for fruit such as tomatoes, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, etc.
Sunflower oil: In Kirundo province, farmers have vast plantations of sunflower. The harvest is mainly sold to operators such as Mutwenzi Parish and Savonor.
Plant and Animal Oil: Since 2005, the Government of Burundi has carried out a vast campaign on planting avocado trees. There will soon be a large amount of avocado production, hence the need for developing processing units. Considering that avocado oil is on a high demand worldwide, this is a great investment opportunity. In addition, extending the farming of sunflower in the northern region of the Country is yet a promising investment opportunity.
Animals husbandry in Burundi is mainly traditional. Large-scale and intensive livestock farming is almost non-existent. Animals that are most found on farms are: cattle, goats, sheep and poultry. The local livestock production lines are particularly focused on the processing of dairy products, the meat sale or the organic manure production. The national production of meat, milk and eggs is likely to be very inadequate to meet national demand. However, it should be noted that livestock product is growing rapidly thanks to the country demographic increase.
The livestock sector offers investment opportunities not only for the meat and dairy products processing industry, but also in the development of infrastructure required for a local and international market.
The fisheries sector has encountered challenges due to the political crisis that have been disrupting the economic activities in the country, especially from 1993 to 2005. Fishing, particularly in Lake Tanganyika, is a substantial activity for the people of Burundi. Unfortunately, the production from fishing which represents 1% of the GDP has been so far mainly oriented to local consumption.
Every inhabitant eats an average of 2 kg of fish per year. This is a lower quantity if compared to the average of the sub-region (5.1 to 7 kg / inhab. / Year). In Burundi, fishing activities are semi-artisanal and semi-industrial. In order to revitalize the fisheries sector, the Government has considered it vital to protect the lake against pollution and fishing methods that prevent young fish to grow.
About fisheries and fish farming sector in Burundi:
- The sector provides a livelihood for more than 120 thousand persons employed in both canoe and small fishing boats making, the marketing and the traditional fish processing;
- The development of fish ponds is rare despite the availability of numerous sites around the country that could be used for such an activity;
- Besides, the Government of Burundi has just renovated the fish ponds in Isale Commune (Bujumbura Rural) and Gitega province;
- A field business exploratory visit is encouraged in the aquaculture sub-sector;
- Lake Tanganyika is an ecosystem conducive for industrial fishing, with a production amounting to 167 000 Tons.
Tanganyika being one of the deepest lakes in the world and given that Burundi fishermen are using artisanal equipment, they can only catch fish within their reach, leaving the depths of the lake untapped so far. In the countryside, only smoked or dried fish can be found and it is exported to the East of the DRC and Rwanda. The fisheries sector has lately been entirely privatized.
It has three categories:
- the semi-industrial;
- the artisanal;
- the traditional
Fish is sold fresh, dried or smoked in rural markets. The fish is often processed by drying, smoking before being put on the market. Given that the national fishing production is not enough to satisfy demand, a significant quantity of fish is imported mostly from Uganda.
Opportunities in fisheries sector:
• Setting up a cold chain system (a conservation or industrial processing system, cold storages for national supply or export);
• The rehabilitation of infrastructure and equipment;
• An important regional market: there is a large market for fish in COMESA region (Eastern DRC, Rwanda etc.);
• Lake Tanganyika has a fish wildlife that is particularly rich and diversified. Nearly 250 species among which about two thirds are endemic;
• Industrial fishing in deep waters would significantly increase the production;
• Natural conditions are favourable to the development of inside lake fishing or fish farming.