MPs blame poor post-harvest handling for challenges in agric supply chain

The Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Environment, Ignatienne Nyirarukundo, speaks as Jean Claude Musabyimana, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, looks on yesterday. Sam Ngendahimana

Members of parliament have voiced their concerns over farmers’ lack of ready market and agro-processing factories’ struggles to access enough raw materials.

Members of the parliamentary committee on agriculture and environment voiced their concerns Monday while meeting officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources and its affiliated institutions ahead of their countrywide tour to assess the performance of the agriculture and livestock sectors.

They will assess availability and performance of storage facilities and engage with farmers, local officials, and factories processing farm produce among others.

A joint assessment carried out in 2017 by the University of Rwanda (UR), Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), and National Agriculture Export Development Board (NAEB) showed that about 40 per cent of fruits and vegetables was lost before reaching the end user

Food security in the country is estimated at about 85 per cent, according to the ministry.

MP Ignatienne Nyirarukundo, the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Environment, said that, among other issues, they want to assess the agricultural commodity market because they realised that there are issues affecting it.  

“There is no way a person can lack enough food when some produce is rotting because of lack of ready market,” Nyirarukundo said.

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Jean Claude Musabyimana, said the issues surrounding the agricultural produce were vicious.

“You produce, but when the markets are not ready to receive the produce, or are not well organised, it results in trade issues,” she said.

He pointed out that there was need for a private sector with the capacity to receive and process agricultural produce.

“We now have pressure from firms involved in buying the produce [such as wheat and cassava] who are saying that they have full stores and are requesting us to buy them, otherwise they threaten to give farmers lower prices, or not buy their produce in the next farming season,” he said.

It is expected that the committee will meet the ministry officials again on December 19, 2018 after the completion of the evaluation in districts to compare notes.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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