Fruit and vegetable prices have skyrocketed in Eastern Province on an annual basis.
A mini-survey conducted by Business Times found that prices of cabbage, carrots, spinach and passion fruits, have increased by up to 50 per cent compared to those of a similar period last year.
Wholesale prices of cabbages have soared to Rwf300 per kilogramme (up 50 per cent), while that of carrot rose 60 per cent to Rwf500 per kilo.
Irish potatoes have gone up marginally to Rwf150 a kilo from Rwf100 in August last year; but the price of ground nuts has doubled from Rwf600 to Rwf1,200 per kilogramme.
Traders attributed the sharp rise to low supply occasioned by inadequate rainfall. Fruit growers said total output declined this year because many farmers in the area switched to growing tomatoes.
“Farmers were being paid between Rwf600 and Rwf800 per kilo of tomatoes last year, which attracted many growers to the detriment of other vegetables,” dealers said.
Oranges now cost Rwf1,000 per kilo, up from Rwf500 last year, yellow bananas are at Rwf800 per cluster of the local breed in markets across the province compared to Rwf200 last year. Pineapples cost Rwf400 each, up from Rwf200 last year.
Alfred Nkunzumukiza, a mango grower in Ngoma District, said fruit production in the country is low compared to demand.
“Mango production has dropped by 50 per cent due to drought, while bananas were destroyed by the banana wilt disease. Besides, consumption of fruits has been rising but production is constant,” said Innocent Ukizuri, the Rwaamagana District agriculture officer.
Claude Gasana, a resident of Kayonza District, said that there was need for consumer protection programmes.
Rwamagana District executive secretary, Henry Kakoza, however said farm gate prices for the above produce were still low, adding that the district promotes a model where producers will have direct link to consumers “so they can benefit more from their efforts”.
He revealed that they have also started a campaign to encourage more people into fruit and vegetable growing to increase production.