PPP venture boosts industrial growth in Gisagara district

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An employ of Gisagara Agro Business Industry monitors the production line at the factory. / Appolonia Uwanziga.

As part of promoting industrial growth countrywide, the government introduced Community Processing Centres (CPCs), which are mainly based in rural areas. The programme also seeks to create jobs for youth and reduce on the challenge of rural-urban migration. One such CPC, a modern banana processing plant, was last year launched in Gisagara District to support agro-processing in the area. The plant, the first of its kind in the district, presents farmers a sustainable market for their produce.

The factory cost over Rwf920 million to set up. According to Gerald Karemera, the managing director for Gisagara Agro Business Industry Ltd, the plant is part of the plans to improve the quality of banana products besides contributing to the development of the district as well as enhancing household income of farmers. Karemera said, “We had also noticed that people were getting health-related issues as a result of consuming unhygienic brew and juices made using the traditional methods.”

Public-private partnership

The plant has the capacity to process 20 tonnes of bananas per day to make alcohol, according to Karemera, and is a joint venture between the district and private investors. Gisagara District owns a minority stake of 48 per cent, while Mountain Natural Food owns 52 per cent in the venture.

“We spent Rwf28 million to buy farmer’s bananas within the first three months of operation, while over Rwf2 million was paid to casual workers per month. The plant has 18 permanent staff and 15 casual workers,” Karemera added.

He added that the firm would start producing banana juice, which will further boost farmers’ income and government revenue, as well as create more jobs.

Jerome Rutaburingonga, the Gisagara District mayor, said the local authority has banned traditional ways of making brew, which involved squeezing bananas using feet. ‘‘The banana processing plant provided ready market for farmers and helped improve the quality of banana brew currently made locally,’’ he said. He added that, 80 per cent of the population in the district depends on agriculture.

What they say

According to Jean Damascene Hakizimana, a farmer, the plant has created a stable market for their produce. “Previously, we used to transport our bananas to various places looking for buyers who offered Rwf70 per kilogramme, but the factory offers Rwf110 per kilo,” she said.