An Irish potato processing plant being constructed in Nyabihu District is expected to help address price frustrations especially during bumper harvest.
The plant, being constructed by Establishment Aziza in Mukamira Sector, is part of a broader project by the government to set up small plants dubbed Community Processing Centres (CPCs), according to Emmanuel Hategeka, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Touring the site last week, Hategeka said the government’s plans it to set up a processing plant in each of the country’s 30 districts to deal with the most available products.
The Nyabihu plant will be making chips, snacks and prepared Irish potatoes ready to be sold in hotels, among other products.
Construction alone will cost Rwf206 million with a processing capacity of 1.5 tonnes per hour, Hategeka explained.
“The plants are referred to as community processing centres because they will also serve as training centres for farmers on modern farming,” Hategeka said.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry, says it will work with farmers’ cooperatives and local leaders to ensure that farm produce is increased to provide the necessary inputs for the plants.
He said the processing machines and other equipment for the Nyabihu plant have already been imported.
Construction is still in the first phase but the contractor assured that they will meet the deadline, he said.
“The contractor has ensured us the processing plant will be completed by the end of January and has doubled the number of employees. We have financed it and he has to work hard to meet the deadline,” Hategeka said.
Nyabihu processing centre will have various sections; including raw materials reception, a processing zone, storage room, offices, packaging room, loading zone, training room, supervision room, among others.
The PS also announced that the Burera milk processing plant will be completed before the end of January.
Also in the pipeline is the construction of a banana processing plant in Rwamagana to process banana products such as beer, juice, and wine.
Jean Damascene Niyitabera, an engineer at the Nyabihu site, said he was confident they would complete the work within the agreed deadline.
“Initially, the rocky soils had delayed the construction but we now have all it requires in terms of materials and staff and no doubt we shall meet the deadline,” Niyitabera said.
Currently over 350 casual workers and engineers are employed at the site.
Farmers welcomed the development, saying it would help them sell their produce at good prices.
Currently a kilo of Irish potatoes costs between Rwf80 and Rwf100.