Farmers grumble after Minicom sets common price for maize

The ministry of Trade and Industry has set a common price for maize corn in the country, putting it at Rwf160 per kilogramme.
A famer in Ruhango District checks on his maize barn in 2013. (File)
A famer in Ruhango District checks on his maize barn in 2013. (File)

The ministry of Trade and Industry has set a common price for maize corn in the country, putting it at Rwf160 per kilogramme.

There has been no common price for maize, and prices were dictated by forces of demand and supply.

During a meeting that brought together maize farmers, dealers and other stakeholders, François Kanimba, the minister for trade and industry, said the setting of price was necessitated by the desire to curb illegal maize trade and assess the preparedness of the market to absorb the projected bumper season for maize in 2015.

“Farmers have been facing high post harvest losses. Since we expect to have about 900,000 tonnes of maize produce this season, we need to assess the market and gauge how prepared it is to absorb that produce,” Kanimba said.

Setting a common price that is profitable for both farmers and dealers is one of the means to restrain illegal trading of maize that is sometimes at the basis of post harvest losses, he added.

To make it more profitable, Tony Nsanganira, the state minister at the Ministry of Agriculture, urged farmers to work through cooperatives.

“We are here to establish a quality value chain for maize produce, including the common price across the country, and we are striving to reduce post harvest losses,” said Nsanganira.

Farmers’ discontent

The New Times understands the directive has left some of the farmers unhappy.

Alex Nzeyimana and Emmanuel Mutabaruka, both farmers in Kayonza District, said they were not happy with the new price, which they said sets them back Rwf70 compared to Rwf230 per kilogramme that they have been getting.

“I don’t see any profit with the new price; it is only benefiting the dealers. I was selling my produce at Rwf230 per kilo, I do not know why they have reduced it to this margin,” Nzeyimana said.

However, Jerôme Nsanzabaganwa, another farmer, welcomed the common price though he also had concerns over the profitability of farmers.

“It is good that we get a standard price for our produce. I hope it will help to fight scams and will add value to our produce,” he said.

“However, what I am not happy with is the price. Rwf160 as a selling price is lower than the production cost if you consider the inputs like fertilizers, labour and seeds, among others.”

Wenceslas Bahati, the director-general of Rwanda Grains and Cereals Corporation, said the new price puts into consideration the production cost as it was set to be profitable for both dealers and farmers.

“We have to regulate prices so that both dealers and farmers can benefit from the business.

The new price is not lower that the production cost as the survey we conducted recently across the country revealed that maize production cost in Rwanda varies between Rwf120 and Rwf140 on a kilo,” Bahati said.

He called on farmers to rely on cooperatives in case of urgent need for money instead of banking on illegal traders who sometimes give them a higher price but use substandard weighing facilities.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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