New maize price set as harvest starts

Maize hang on a drying site structure after harvest. The new farm gate price came after maize had soared to Rwf600 a kilogramme in Kigali in December 2019, from Rwf350 in previous years. / Photo: Courtesy.

Farmers have welcomed favourable new maize prices which were set at the onset of harvest season, according to Maize Farmers' Cooperatives Federation in Rwanda.

According to prices announced recently by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM), a kilogramme of maize is now Rwf223, representing an increase of 6 per cent.

The development comes after maize had reached an all-time high at Rwf600 a kilogramme – in Kigali.

The hike in prices was attributed to the fact that there was a shortage of maize between September 2019 and January this year. The shortage was a result of a lean season and drought which had a negative impact on maize production in regional countries.

Maize harvest in the farming season A of 2020 started mid-January and will end at the end of March this year.   

Evariste Tugirinshuti, the president of Maize Farmers' Cooperatives Federation, told The New Times that the farmers were happy with the new farm gate price.

“Farm gate price means that it is the price which a buyer should not go below,” he said pointing out that, as of now, a farmer gets around Rwf250 depending on the demand of maize at the market.

Talking about farm inputs, Tugirinshuti said that the average investment ranges from Rwf700,000 to Rwf900,000 to grow maize per hectare, explaining that a farmer spends Rwf187 to produce a kilogramme of maize.

But, Jean Baptiste Twagirimana, President of IABM Maize cooperative – in Muhanga District said that a farmer should get at least Rwf250 for a kilogramme of maize given the investment they make.

Twagirimana said that the scarcity of maize in recent months resulted in the rise in the price of maize flour, which made the cooperative reduce production.

“When there was a good market, we used to mill six tonnes of maize and get four tonnes of flour per day. But after maize became expensive, we produced that same quantity once a week or in two weeks as decreased,” he told The New Times adding that it has been relying on maize imports from Tanzania.

Maize production expected to improve

Meanwhile, Tugirinshuti said that maize produce this season will be higher than the previous season despite floods that affected some plantations as a result of the heavy rains that poured recently.

“Last season, maize production was estimated at 3.5 tonnes per hectare, now it is projected at 4.9 tonnes per hectare,” Tugirinshuti said.

MINICOM reminded that all maize produce should be collected at authorised points.

The Ministry also added that in a bid to avoid disorder in buying maize this season, all business people engaged in the trade should have acquired an agricultural license.

entirenganya@newtimesrwanda.com

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