It is not yet clear how the dilemma of Chili farmers in Gatsibo District who were counting losses after failing to find buyers for their produce ends but, there is hope after various entities intervened to help them find reasonable buyers. As earlier reported, previously, more than 100 chili farmers in Mugera cell, Gatsibo sector, farmers used to sell their produce to buyers from Kigali on mutual consent without contracts but, this season, their regular buyers did not show up. ALSO READ: Rwanda’s dry chili to debut on Chinese market The farmers in the area are in 10 clusters, of 10 to 25 members each. They ordered high quality seeds from the Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Food Security Project (SAIP) project, followed agronomists recommendations and planted chili on more than 30 hectares of land in Mugera cell. ALSO READ: Gatsibo chili farmers counting losses due to lack of market A week ago, the farmers, including Rehema Nyiramukesha, told The New Times how they were devastated because they could not find buyers for their good harvest. At the time, the Gatsibo District Vice Mayor in charge of Economic Development, Jean Leonard Sekanyange, said the District knew these farmers’ plight and was trying to help them find buyers. Lately, the farmers have rejected an offer from a buyer who was offering a deal of Rwf1,500 per kilo of dried chili. Gerald Muzungu, the Managing Director of Spices Rwanda, a company that produces dried chili for export, on February 9, told The New Times that we will buy a kilogram at Rwf1,500 as equilibrium price for the high quality sourced chili they have. Willing farmers can sign MOU contracts with us. We will also train them on planting other types of chili, mostly those we specialize in and guarantee a market for their produce. We pay no later than two days after sale. Our agronomists are sourcing other chili farmers who might have issues of lack of market through our offices in Ngoma, Bugesera and Rwamagana. We buy high quality dried chili. We will not buy fresh chili from them.” Wants to be a monopoly A day later, on February 10, a meeting was scheduled with the farmers so as to “discuss with the farmers on long term partnerships. The SAIP project also held a meeting with the farmers and decided to provide them with ample tents to dry their produce depending on each farmers produce according to Cyprien Turatsinze, the farmers’ cooperative chairperson. Turatsinze said they did not take the deal offered by Spices Rwanda because it “does not buy fresh chili and wants to be a monopoly business to them.” The farmers complained that Spices Rwanda wanted to be the only buyer they sold to. They also did not like the fact that the firm was only willing to buy dry chili and not fresh chili as well. Luckily, other potential buyers have shown interest, and the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) is also involved. According to Turatsinze, the SAIP project is in talks with an Asian investor who will buy their produce and also negotiate with others to buy from the farmers. He said that after drying the chili they will sign contracts with the new buyers SAIP will recommend, if the deal is good. He said: We held a meeting with the Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Food Security Project (SAIP) project. They agreed to provide tents to dry our produce, each farmer will receive a number of tents compared to the produce he or she has. We started listing how many tents each member needs. Members of the cooperative withdrew from the Spices Rwanda Limited deal because they didn't buy fresh chili and wanted to monopolise the market. SAIP has agreed to discuss with other buyers including a Chinese investor and Afri Foods to buy our produce. We have not signed any contract today [Friday] because we are waiting for the buyer's recommended from SAIP. As noted, the farmers had stopped harvesting fearing more losses from the rain because they did not have tents to cover the produce. “I cannot properly estimate how many tonnes have been lost so far. Jean Marie Munyaneza, the emerging commodity division manager at NAEB, said: We found out that those farmers were linked to buyers but never wanted to abide by terms and conditions of the contract. They preferred speculations of prices to sell when prices rise. They would have not experienced losses in the first place if they abided with available contracts. However we thought of plan B and, soon, a buyer will buy their dried chili as we wait for the normalization of situations in fresh chili. We can only disclose the buyers upon their consent on this, which I cannot guarantee for now. The farmers do not entirely agree with the NAEB official, especially when he claimed that they rejected buyers’ contracts because they preferred to speculate and sell when prices rise. Nyiramukesha said: In August; that is when the contract was presented to us. By then we were in the planting period. He wanted five tonnes of chili weekly. But can you really sign a contract to deliver produce when it is still in the planting season? By the time we had got the produce, they told us the contractor invested money elsewhere with those who had ready produce. That is why we rejected the contract. They were helping but not at the right time. On February 7, the KAIGA 8 cooperative chairperson, Turatsinze, said they estimated that three tons of their produce gets wasted every week due to lack of buyers.” Turatsinze had planted chili on 20 acres and it all got spoiled before he got a buyer. He had harvested up to 1.5 tons of chili.