Last week government announced a new minimum farm gate price for maize ahead of the new harvest season.
Farmers welcomed the announcement because the price increased from Rwf160 to Rwf200.
In the previous season, farmers had expressed misgivings about the Rwf160 gate price, which they said was too low to enable them get a profit after sales.
Now, farmers say, the new price will attract more people to engage in maize growing besides boosting farmer morale, production, and household incomes.
However, more famers should take advantage of the increased gate price to embark on large scale production of maize and to ensure that they produce good quality maize.
In the past, some farmers were often cheated by unscrupulous middlemen, which discouraged them from expanding their plantations or ensuring quality along the maize value chain. For example, though the maize minimum farm gate price is currently Rwf160 per kilogramme, some crafty traders buy the cereal at Rwf150 a kilo, and retail it at a high of Rwf250 in major markets.
But with the assured gate price, farmers don’t have to worry about being cheated.
Concerned stakeholders should sensitise more farmers on how best they can take advantage of the initiative and engage in maize growing with focus on increasing volumes and quality along the value chain. Maize farmers should aim for bumper harvest to reap big in the next season
The move is a step in the right direction as government looks to increase maize production to atleast 781,000 tonnes in the first season of this year, up from less than 652,000 tonnes during the same period last year.
It will also go a long way in ensuring that Government achieves the targeted 8.5 per cent growth rate for the agriculture sector by 2018 from current 6.5 per cent.