Production costs to factor in Irish potato prices

Irish potatoes in Musanze market. The Ministry of Trade this week released new prices. / File

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has set new prices for Irish potatoes which have taken into consideration various factors including varieties and costs of production in every district.

The new tariffs which are applicable to the current farming season, are contained in a statement released on July 10.

The Ministry explained that the cost of transport given the distance between the producing area/district and Kigali has been considered in order to determine the prices.

Generally, the prices indicate an increase compared to last season’s, which were set on December 11, 2018.

In the previous season, the farm gate price was between Rwf150 and Rwf160 a kilogramme for Kinigi variety – which is the highest – for while consumers would pay Rwf210 and Rwf215 a kilogramme at retail markets in Kigali.

The price for other potato varieties was Rwf130 - Rwf135 a kilogramme to a farmer; and retailed at Rwf180 to Rwf185 in Kigali.

In Nyaruguru and Nyamagabe District, Kinigi, Kuruza and Victoria Irish potato verities will cost between Rwf140 and Rwf145 a kilogramme from a farmer.

But, it will be between Rwf170 and Rwf180 at Nzove wholesale market in Nyarugenge District, increasing to Rwf190 and Rwf200 at (retail) markets in Kigali.

In Gicumbi, a Kinigi farmer will get Rwf180 - Rwf185 as farm gate price, while it is Rwf225 and Rwf235 at retail markets in Kigali.

In Burera, Musanze, Nyabihu and Rubavu, a farmer will get between Rwf200 - Rwf220 a kilogramme of Kinigi potatoes, which is between Rwf60 and Rwf75 higher than prices in Nyaruguru and Nyamagabe.

At Nzove wholesale market, it will be between Rwf235 and Rwf255, while it will be Rwf255 - Rwf275 in Kigali.

Other potato varieties will cost between Rwf160 and Rwf170 a kilogramme from farmers, except Peco – considered the cheapest variety – which will go for Rwf130 - Rwf140 a kilogramme. At Nzove wholesale market, their prices will increase to Rwf195 - 205, and Rwf215 and Rwf225 in various markets in Kigali.

Speaking to Sunday Times, Cassien Karangwa, Director of Domestic Trade at Ministry of Trade and Industry said that previously, only average potato prices were considered at national level, but this time, there will be separate prices for each district.

“In some areas [such as Nyamagabe], farmland rent is about Rwf200,000 or less per hectare per season (a half year), while in other areas [Nyabihu and Rubavu], it is more expensive with a rent of about Rwf1 million,” he said.

Most of the Irish potatoes produced in Nyaruguru and Nyamagabe District are consumed in Southern Province, he indicated.

Explaining why new season prices are higher than those set in the previous one, he indicated that because of the rain that started in April, farmers applied a lot of pesticides, and the rain reduced farm productivity.

Charles Uwamungu, President of Irish potato farmers’ union in Musanze District told Sunday Times that considering production cost in each area, and transport charges was needed, but expressed concern over the marketing of the produce in Kigali.

Uwamungu said that there will be a reduction in potato production mainly because of heavy rains that adversely affected the crop in June.

“I planted a tonne of Irish potato seeds on half a hectare, from which I was expecting to harvest about 10 tonnes of potatoes. However, because of heavy rains, I will get about three tonnes,” he said.

As Kigali is the main market, farmers argue that the prices will be difficult to implement, or will affect potato trade as buyers will tend to buy the cheaper ones regardless of the cost of production or transport.

“There is where Kinigi has been priced at Rwf140 a kilogramme, while it is Rwf200 in Musanze. All such produce will subsequently be taken to the same market. I think the buyer will choose what is affordable,” he said.

The Ministry said that each vehicle ferrying potatoes should have documents indicating the farmers’ cooperative from which it was obtained, and all vehicles should go to Nzove wholesale market.

An estimated 835,500 tonnes of Irish potatoes was produced in Rwanda in 2018, compared to over 776,700 the previous year, according to information from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.

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