Farmers want food prices determined by free market
Farmers in the Eastern Province have said food prices should solely be determined by the free market.
In a free market, food producers determine the price of their products based on the forces of supply and demand.
They disclosed this yesterday in a meeting that brought together leaders of agro-based cooperatives, Mayors, the Governor and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture.
The farmers warned that if price determination remained unresolved, farmers would have no choice but to become bankrupt.
Pastor Silvestre Barijuru, chairman of a maize cooperative in Gatsibo District, said that food producers were private individuals who had the right to manage their own property and ideas the way they saw fit.
He said that the government had done extraordinary well to increase farmers’ production, but however added that randomly determining food prices and imposing restrictions on how the sale should be, ought to be revised.
“The prices set by relevant institutions are not farmer friendly…there should be consensus in price determination or let farmers to do it alone,” he stated.
“For instance, MINAGRI set maize price at Rwf 120 per kilogram, but some buyers go up to Rwf 180. So, individual farmers opt to sell to the so called ‘illegal’ buyers,” he said.
Steven Safari, a farmer in Kayonza District, reiterated the need to rectify the way food prices are determined.
He said that fraud and irregularities in food business could be exacerbated by poor prices set without farmers’ involvement.
“MINAGRI prices might be lower than the real prices of food crops…Buying crops should also be timely so that farmers get money in time. Farmers pay school fees for their children, etc, from their crops. It is not proper to keep them waiting for long,” he said.
Dative Mukaniyonzima, MINICOM focal point in Eastern Province, however, told farmers’ representatives that the prices were set to indicate the minimum price of maize per kilogram a farmer can sale.
She said that setting minimum prices was in the interest of the farmers contrary to what they thought.
”All inputs towards maize production are estimated at a cost of Rwf 110. So, Rwf 120 is the minimum price possible which may be increased depending on the dictates of demand and supply at a particular time,” she said.
Eastern Province has registered land mark crop production.
Contact email: stephen.rwembeho[at]newtimes.co.rw