Poor post-harvest handling affects maize farmers
Rwamagana — Farmers in Rwamagana are losing markets for their maize-produce because of its poor post harvest handling.
The farmers lack facilities to clean, dry and store their maize harvest which compromises its quality.
Majority of the farmers dry their maize on bare ground and dirty surfaces exposing it to dust and stones.
The maize quality is further compromised by exposure to rain. The farmers store their maize in shelters covered by plastic sheeting that is easily swayed away by wind, living the maize exposed to rain and other elements.
The farmers are now saying chances for profitable sales are gone.
Jean Bosco Hakizimana, a farmer in Rwamagana, told The New Times that his dirty maize had cost him many customers.
Hakizimana said that there was no single maize cleaning machine at his disposal, adding that most maize was soaked with water.
He said that he was living the same predicament as last season, when out of fifteen sacks of maize, three were purchased and the rest rejected because the produce was dirty.
“We are registering heavy losses…all the maize is on the ground soaked with water. The shelter we were given is too substandard to resist wind. It is as if we wasted our energy growing maize…I don’t know how I will feed my family this time,” he lamented.
Immaculate Mwavita, the chairperson of COHUNYA maize cooperative, said that they plan to construct a storage facility but are cash strapped.
She also said that they had requested the district agricultural department for assistance to the farmers to purchase maize cleaning machines.
“The situation cannot go on as it is today… maize growing, particularly post harvest management, is in a mess. All stakeholders must address the issue forthwith, otherwise, they will be doing great disservice to the country,” she said.
Innocent Ukizuru, the District Agriculture Officer, said that farmers should take care of their produce and not wait to be helped in everything.
“Farmers should know that stocking maize is not easy and sale quickly after harvesting. The current Rwf 180 per kilogram is a good price! Otherwise, the rain is just an accident,” he said.
MINAGRI recently disclosed that Rwanda needs to stock at least 20.000 tons of maize to avert any possible famine in future.
Contact email: stephen.rwembeho[at]newtimes.co.rw