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Grain value chain/ Rwanda: Maize farmers decry lack of market for their produce

19 October 2015

Maize farmers have criticized Rwanda Agriculture Board's (RAB) decision to terminate contracts it had with farmers' cooperatives to buy their bumper produce. According to President of Twirwaneho Mutara Cooperative which deals with seeds multiplication and modern farming, said tons of maize were sold at a giveaway price as they were getting spoilt due to lack of market. Initially, farmers were mobilized to adopt modern fertilizers and fortified seeds to boost production and the whole of produce would be sold to RAB, according to farmers. RAB officials monitored the process from planting to harvest to ensure it meets the body's requirements, revealed by farmers. But, farmers said their hopes were dashed in July, 2015 when RAB told them they could not buy the produce and told them to look for markets elsewhere. It was disclosed that, RAB as the main client had been working along with maize farmer for the past seasons and signed contracts each year and agreed on how to sell the produce. Moreover, RAB used to buy farmers produce after practizing modern farming, especially in seeds multiplication. Farmers however revealed that, RAB used to buy their maize at U$ 0.55 per kilo but they are currently selling at U$0.26. According to the President of Twizamure Cyuve farmers cooperative, lack of appropriate markets made them count losses. Moreover, Cyuve farmers used to sell maize produce to RAB and they could register profit from it. He noted that, selling the produce to businesses around, paid less money than what farmer’s invested. According to the Head of Crop Intensification at RAB, they could not buy the produce last season as they had a surplus in the stores which will be used as seeds for the next two seasons. He advised farmers to sell their produce to other clients and that RAB would help them in getting markets. RAB is working to plan a better way so that farmers are informed about the quantity of seeds needed per year. However in Rwanda, much of the maize is imported from Uganda and Tanzania, and the commodity trading is very dynamic with complex marketing organization traversing countries within the region.



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