NYAGATARE – Maize farmers in Nyagatare district are selling their produce at lower prices compared to the one which was set by the Ministry of Agriculture about two months ago, The New Times has learnt.
The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Agnes Kalibata last month met farmers and advised them to avoid rushing to sell their produce if they are to avoid being cheated. But farmers who talked to The New Times on Wednesday said they had few options.
Although the government set Rwf120 as the minimum price, some farmers are selling their produce at as low as Rwf70 per kg.
The farmers say maize buyers trick them that they would lose out if they waited to sell at the recommended price, while others argue that they have been forced to sell their produce due to food shortages in their homes.
‘They come and tell us that our harvests shall not be bought if we are to sell them above Rwf80. We decide to deal with them since we do not have any other option,’ one of the farmers said.
Emmanuel Rurangirwa, another farmer from Katabagemu sector, said that some farmers sell their harvests due to hunger.
‘Some cannot wait for the government to buy from them yet they have nothing to eat at home. They decide to sell at any price just for survival,’ he said.
Speaking to The New Times in a telephone interview, the Nyagatare vice mayor in charge of Economic Affairs, Enock Byabashaija acknowledged the price differences, adding that the district has reported the issue to the Ministry of Agriculture.
‘We know about the issue and we have reported it to the line ministry. The ministry sent traders to buy maize harvests at agreed prices but they left after purchasing the quantity they needed. Those who cheat farmers are other local traders,’ he said.
The vice mayor added that they were eagerly waiting for the ministry’s response.
‘You see this problem would not be there if there were things like stabilization funds and buffer stocks… but we are waiting for the ministry’s decision to decide on how this issue can be handled,’ he said.