Commercial farming can’t go hand-in-hand with archaic traditional mindsets

Commercial farming will play a big role in securing Rwanda’s future. The New Times / File.

It seems like meat, fruits and vegetables produced and processed in the country are not good enough for most of the major hotels.

Most prefer to import food from other African countries such as Kenya or South Africa. Sometimes they even venture beyond the continent.

With over 10,000 hotel beds and the numerous conferences voting to set camp in Kigali, that is a huge lost market. What is Kenya and South Africa doing that Rwanda cannot? Is it the way the meat is cut, presented or packaged?

If so, what have farmers and the Ministry of Commerce been doing for the last two decades? It really beats logic that now is when meat dealers are coming up with the idea of adding value to their meat through the Rwanda Meat Value Chain Platform (RMVCP).

The problem with the slow pickup of the meat industry could be a matter of mindset and tradition; Rwandans love to accumulate livestock and display them like trophies: the more the cows the better. A Rwandan will reluctantly sell his animal as a last resort. That could explain why meat did not register in their minds for its commercial value; live animals were more valuable.

That is a mindset that needs urgent reengineering; cows should cease to be treated as ornaments. But that will not change if cattle farming is left to uneducated villagers. It is time to adopt commercial beef farming which might need some people giving up their desk jobs and putting on their gumboots.

Commercial farming needs a scientific and economic approach without which we will continue to cede our place to Kenyan or Argentinean farmers.

 

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