Nyagatare District has entered into a partnership with a farmers’ association in the district to construct a Rwf1.2 billion maize factory with capacity to process 30 tonnes of maize per day.
The district Mayor, David Claudian Mushabe, told The New Times that maize was the staple food for most residents.
The project, which will be executed under a public-private partnership, is expected to begin on June 1 this year and completed in June next year.
Some Rwf300 million has so far been allocated this fiscal year, while Rwf300 million more is planned for the next financial year, according to information from the district.
Mushabe said that a study conducted that there was enough maize to ensure sustainable supply to the factory, adding that in case of shortage due to unforeseen factors, it could always source from nearby districts such as Gatsibo and Kayonza.
“We are maize farmers, and our district is the top maize producer in the country. And maize here is mainly consumed as flour, not grain. Therefore, the logic behind the move is that maize flour should not be imported from Uganda or elsewhere yet we have maize and capacity to process it,” he said.
Speaking to The New Times, Marie Jeanne Ntirenganya, president of KABITADU, a cooperative of maize farmers made up of 48 members that grow on 48 hectares in Nyagatare District, said that the factory was timely as it presents ready market.
“The factory is needed. Sometimes when we take our produce to people we have contracts with, it is rejected,” she said, citing an example where they supplied 10 tonnes of maize to a factory last year and was rejected under the pretext that its store was full.
In line with addressing the issue of aflatoxins – harmful toxins that affect crops and can cause liver cancer – which is a serious concern (which pushed some factories to import maize from other countries) Mushabe said the district was establishing mobile driers, and constructing silos.
In addition, he said, there was a project to construct warehouses so that farmers get quality storage facilities.
Maize occupied more than 47,000 hectares in Nyagatare District – or 15 per cent of over 296,000 hectares on which maize was grown at the national level in 2018, according to Seasonal Agricultural Survey 2018 Annual Report released in December 2018 by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR).
Apart from Gatsibo District which had grown maize on over 29,000 hectares in the same period, the maize plantations in Nyagatare were at least two times more than those in other districts.
Overall, average maize yield per hectare in Rwanda was estimated to be 1.3 tonnes, figures from the NISR report show.