Farmers in the loss margin: If they stop, we're all gone

A study conducted by Transparency International Rwanda (TI-RW) on 600 participants from Nyanza and Kayonza districts, shows that low prices and unfriendly value chain cripple smallholder farmers. Only a few are invited to assist at the validation processes of price regulation set by external stakeholders (who barely know the cost of farming) and the decisions that are taken do not in their interest.

Nearly 70 per cent of farmers prepare and submit their Performance Contracts (Imihigo) to the district and out of them around 80 per cent are satisfied with the extent of their involvement.

The findings presentation gathered participants from pubic institutions, development partners and civil society organizations. 

The study findings were presented this Wednesday, December 11th at Ubumwe Grande Hotel, Kigali.

Eventually, says TI-RW, farmers are able to voice their priority needs to the district which thus captures in the planning of its performance contracts. However, the study discovered an alarming concern that impedes the involvement of farmers in the most vital aspect: only 23 per cent participate in setting prices of their produce.

These results echo the latest scoreboard published by RGB that showed that less than 30 per cent of farmers have a say in decisions made for them.

According to Appolinaire Mupiganyi, Executive Secretary of TI-RW, a farmer still dwells in a loss margin, “until now”.

“There is a serious issue in prices and selling of produce,” says Mupiganyi during an interview with the press.

The official notes that the issue is most rampant among rice farmers where prices are dictated to them (by stakeholders) regardless of their efforts or price of seeds.

The price of rice grown in Rwanda, for example, is very high on the market compared to other breeds due to its high-cost farming and treatment.

The Executive Secretary of Transparency International Rwanda (TI-RW) Appolinaire Mupiganyi address Media After the Meeting Held at Kigali on Wednesday.

TI-RW recommends the government to act in the farmers’ favor in order to sustain agriculture, “the backbone of our country’s economy”.

“There is a need for advocacy even though we know that prices are sometimes set by the market, but the government is responsible to support farmers. If they stop growing crops [due to losses], we are all gone,” cautioned Mupiganyi.

Before setting prices, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI)and other stakeholders calculate the work value and expenses made by farmers but according to the ministry, lack of information regarding farmers’ activity records may affect the decisions.

“It seems a challenge to set perfect prices when farmers do not have their activity logs. We usually depend on that information,” explained Octave Semwaga, the Director-General of Strategic Planning and Programmes Coordination, MINAGRI.

For a sustainable solution to activity recording, Semwaga advises farmers to use Nkunganire technology through which “a cooperative can document their work, the quantity of harvest or expenses on fertilizers,” said ...

The technology uses mobile phones and is being spread among smallholder farmers. It enables them to record their activities and calculate the cost of their work and profit. The data can also be used by financial institutions in loan issuance.

The Executive Secretary of Transparency International Rwanda (TI-RW) Appolinaire Mupiganyi consults with TI Chairperson Marie Immaculee Ingabire, during the Meeting 

All photos by Craish Bahizi.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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