Agro-processing companies should work with farmers in order to have easy access to sufficient raw materials to produce at full capacity, Trade and Industry Minister François Kanimba has said.
He was responding to concerns raised by the management of Kinazi Cassava, who said local farmers were unable to supply enough cassava for the factory.
Kanimba visited the cassava plant and Gafunzo rice mill both based in Ruhango district, Southern Province recently.
“You can achieve your production targets if you join farmers in the fields and work with them. You are expecting them to give you big harvests while you, you do not give them anything,” he said.
Robert Runazi, the Managing Director of the plant, said the factory cannot produce at full capacity because farmers’ output per hectare is below the required 40 tons. The plant has installed capacity to process 80 -120 tons of fresh cassava per day.
The minister urged the company to help farmers adapt modern methods of farming and inputs so as to increase output.
“There is a need for partnership between factories and farmers. All the problems you have encountered are due to lack of cooperation. You are the ones who know how much you need to maximise your output, so you have to teach farmers how they can increase their harvest,” the minister said. Kanimba said that with the use of modern agriculture practices, it is possible for a farmer to increase output from the current 15 tonnes to 40
But some farmers told The New Times that they had also been discouraged by the price paid by the processor.
“Rwf55 per kilogramme [is low] for cassava that takes over three years to mature. At that price, we almost gain nothing; and we have been telling this to the factory for a long time,” said Alex Munderere, a resident in Ntongwe Sector.
As a result, some farmers prefer to sell their cassava to local traders in the area who offer higher prices.
But Runazi said that the factory had increased the price to Rwf60 per kilo during the dry season.
“We are going to create a partnership and a mechanism through which all of their problems will be channeled,” he said.