Grain traders from across the country, on Thursday, gathered in Kigali to assess issues hindering their progress and explore measures to move the sector to international level.
During the meeting, that was organised by Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) Rwanda office, the traders cited several factors affecting them.
These include poor quality and insufficiency in local production, poor communication between sellers about price and non-standardised warehouses among other challenges.
Jean de Dieu Kambogo, the director of finance at Trial Services Company Ltd that sells different varieties of grains, said the sector is affected by disorder caused by people who are after temporary benefits.
“Some people join the sector when prices have fallen. Really, someone without a store or any other recognised working place cannot be called a seller. Actually, they should first define their working plan and consider their financial capacity before entering the sector,” he said.
Kambogo said strengthening the grain sector is a long-term endeavour that will need much training at all levels, from empowering cultivators in their cooperatives to be able to build their own production collection centres.
“Grain products are important to all people, primary for feeding and doing business, for us who have engaged in this business we need to harmonise our working field by embracing modern product processing and conservation practices but mainly quality production assurance,” he added.
Closer efforts with govt
Frank Kadugara, the managing director of Movement Supplier and Services Ltd, said the sector and government would work closely to sensitise people on good cultivation practices to produce enough and standardised products.
“There is a need for effective collaboration between sellers and to learn from our East African Community counterparts. Of course, they have bigger chunks of land and advanced technology, but why have we lagged behind in everything, in both quality and quantity?” he asked the grain sellers, challenging them to develop a clear trend.
Augustin Mutijima, the in-charge of traders at EAGC Rwanda office, said through the council they hope to address issues facing the sector and develop good guidelines that will help them reach the level of other EAC members in same business.
“We have developed a platform that shows the price of grains, the exportation and the availability of product across the region, through this platform traders will be able to find out good accessibility of the market and share ideas that help advance the sector,” Mutijima said.
He said they are committed to promoting the sector in line with government and EAC policies.
Earlier, a meeting that brought together farmers and processors also identified challenges and issues faced in the sub-sector of grains and cereals in Rwanda.
The service providers meeting noted that some seed varieties were not available in the distribution chain and called on Rwanda Agriculture Board to avail all needed varieties in the distribution chain.