Farmers seek compensation in cattle deal

A group of farmers on Friday met with the Minister for Agriculture to demand compensation for controversial exotic Friesian cows imported from Holland-based firm, Firma Schaap, owned by N.H Schaap.
A farmer feeds his Friesian cow. Many farmers who who purchased heifers in a deal with Minagri have asked for compensation.  File.
A farmer feeds his Friesian cow. Many farmers who who purchased heifers in a deal with Minagri have asked for compensation. File.

A group of farmers on Friday met with the Minister for Agriculture to demand compensation for controversial exotic Friesian cows imported from Holland-based firm, Firma Schaap, owned by N.H Schaap.

The farmers last month petitioned government over what they termed as a “counterfeit deal” by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rwanda Development Bank (BRD) to supply them the exotic cows. 

In a January 21 petition, a copy of which The New Times has seen, the farmers said they were to receive high quality heifers with a production capacity of up to 40 litres of milk per day, but that the animals that were imported were infected with diseases.

At least 100 of the Friesian cows have since died, the farmers said.

The poor quality animals left 28 farmers counting losses despite their high expectations to make profits.

In their petition, the farmers argue that the deal to purchase the animals was flawed with irregularities.

 Under the deal, 500 cows were purchased at $1.9 million (about Rwf1.4 billion).

The farmers had to part with Euros 2,885 (about Rwf2.7 million) per head of the milk-producing cows through a loan from BRD.

Returning the cows

One of the farmers who attended Friday’s meeting told The New Times that they asked the ministry to replace their cows.

“We don’t want money. We need our cows; the ministry was supposed to monitor and treat them but, unfortunately, they were reluctant and we cannot bear this loss. They should compensate us, we are business people,” the farmer said on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

The Minister for Agriculture, Dr Agnes Kalibata, confirmed the development, saying they asked the affected farmers to first return the poor quality cows as government plans to find a solution.

“We have given them a week to return the cows to the ministry,” Dr Kalibata said. “We will then meet with BRD and come up with a solution.”

She said various ministry stations have been availed to receive the cows in various districts.

The paper understands some farmers are not willing to return the cows, while others were by yesterday transporting theirs toward the ministry’s stations in Bugesera District and other areas.

The sour deal has also left a bitter taste in the mouth of BRD officials over the loan issue.

Alex Kanyankore the BRD chief executive, said: “We have to assess the issue because there some farmers who are satisfied with the cows.”

Kanyankore said the bank was collaborating with the ministry to have the issue sorted, adding that the animals had multiplied to 700 from the original 500 although some had died. 

 

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