Garlic farmers have reason to smile after the construction of a Rwf1.3 billion garlic processing plant and seven dry shelters began in Musanze District. It is set to be completed within the next five months.
The dry shelters are being constructed in different sectors of Musanze District while the plant is set to be constructed in Gataraga Sector in the same district.
The facilities are being built thanks to an idea by local young agripreneurs under IMRAB Group that got help from Business Development Fund (BDF) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI). Another garlic dry shelter will be built in Huye District, Southern Province.
Martin Bunane, the firm managing director, said they invested in garlic after realizing that the crop’s subsistence farmers were encountering losses associated with a number of challenges that included market scarcity and limited knowledge on post-harvest management.
“Previously garlic farmers would buy the seeds at Rwf1,000 per a kilo and sell the same quantity at Rwf500; they did not have access to the market which allowed traders to buy their harvest lower than the market price. Moreover, their productivity was low due to poor farming practices and lack of fertilizers,” He said, adding that they are currently working with over 250 garlic farmers in their respective 11 cooperatives.
Bunane who is also the alumni of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) of the United States Department of State, noted that he was confident that investing in garlic value addition will improve the wellbeing of the farmers as more than 120 will get permanent jobs while other 200 will be given part-time jobs.
He went on to say the garlic plant and dry shelters will contribute towards the country efforts to boost export given that the firm projects to process 3000 tonnes annually.
Béatrice Mukarugina, a garlic farmer from Gataraga Sector in Musanze District, said farmers were increasingly facing losses associated with post-harvest management stressing that having a processing plant and appropriate dry shelters would be the only remedy.
“When I grow 100 kilogrammes of garlic I harvest a tonne which I dry at my home. However, during the rainy period the garlic decay and I personally lose at least 300 Kg through the process, I, therefore, believe that having a processing plant would be a long-lasting solution,” she said.
According to figures from RAB, there are about 13,000 garlic farmers countrywide.