The recent order by the Rwanda Animal Resources Development Authority (RARDA) banning the export of cattle to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was done in good faith, but the timeframe does not favour cattle producers.
The argument that Rwandan farmers should aim at adding value to their produce by exporting beef and other byproducts instead of live animals, makes business sense.
But before banning the export of animals, RARDA should have given the farmers an alternative.
The farmers support the idea of adding value to their products and are ready to explore that area; that is where RARDA should have guided them instead of coming up with a blanket ban.
It could, for example, help farmers’ cooperatives access funding to set up processing plants that will not only meet the wishes of the livestock authorities, but farmers and the country as a whole will
benefit from increased revenues.
Right now the farmers are complaining that they have lost a lucrative market in the DRC and have no option but to live with diminished revenues.
Value addition is one area the Agriculture Development Fund could be made use of, instead of attracting criticisms for not serving its initial purpose; improving the agricultural sector in line with the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS).
It would be advisable for RARDA to rethink the ban order by giving farmers enough time to get on board because industrializing the agricultural sector needs a lot of resources and mindset change, and
this is not done overnight.