French bean farmers decry high pesticide cost

A close view of some of the French beans grown by farmers in Gasabo District’s Kinyinya Sector. / Courtesy

The cost for an imported effective pesticide used in controlling disease attacking French beans is high, farmers have said, calling for interventions such as government subsidies to make it affordable.

Farmers told Sunday Times that the pesticide called Ortva costs over Rwf150,000 a litre, and that some two litres of it – valued at over Rwf300,000 – are  sprayed on a hectare plantation upon harvest

Emmanuel Hategekimana, President of Abadasigana ba Kinyinya, a cooperative farmers growing French beans (also called green beans) in Kinyinya Sector of Gasabo District said that such a pesticide is used to manage a disease called anthracnose, which is locally known as‘Nyirakadori.’

It is considered a major disease of beans and is caused by a fungus, which impairs the quality of the beans and reduces yields.

The cooperative grows the crop on about 15 hectares, and has 56 farmers.

“Such a disease is infectious and can cause serious losses to the farm produce if it is not treated. The pesticide to tackle it is expensive,” Hategekimana said.

“Our suggestion is that there should be entrepreneurs to produce it [within the country], and the government provides a subsidy to bring the cost down,” he said as he appealed support.

Pierre Nzabamwita, President of Abakumburwa Kajevuba, a French bean farmers’ cooperative in Gasabo District’s Rutunga Sector also said that the pesticide is expensive for farmers.

The cooperative has over 450 members growing vegetables on 80 hectares, of which 52 are used for French beans cultivation. Nzabamwita said that between 23 and 13 tonnes of French beans are produced on a hectare per season (about two months and a half).

The cooperatives supply their harvest to fresh farm produce exporting companies.

“We use that pesticide before the crop flowers, mainly during rainy season,” he said, adding that they also apply other pesticides with different prices.

Pie Ntwari, NAEB Communication Officer said that there are expensive pesticides depending on the diseases in question.

“It is advisable that they [farmers] join hands in order to buy the pesticide [in bulk] so that they are get affordable,” he said, advising the farmers to effectively spray the pesticide to avoid any wasteful application.

Rwanda exported over 440,500 kilogrammes of French beans in the farming year 2017/2018, according to figures from a June 2018 Report by National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB).

French beans contributed to revenues from Rwanda’s horticulture subsector which generated $27 million per year to date from $5 million in 2005, according figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources

The report indicated that such commodity was largely exported to The Netherlands, Great Britain (UK), and France, with over 176,800 klogrammes, 172,500 kilogrammes, and 90,200 kilogrammes respectively.