Of late there has been a drive to promote value addition to the country’s products.
The country exports its minerals in raw form as there are no smelters. While mining has taken over the top spot in foreign export earnings, it could bring more even when semi-processed.
While some companies have started processing and packaging coffee and tea, it is just a fraction of its produce and is mainly for local consumption.
It is a shame to see low quality Nescafe on our supermarket shelves yet our own coffee is appreciated worldwide. What is missing to have our own instant coffee?
Processing does not need a major factory; it just needs to think outside the box. Tomato farmers need not complain that a large portion of their produce goes to waste.
Why do we need to import tomato paste and sauce when it does not need much to transform and preserve the tomatoes for our tables?
How long will it get our industrialist to embrace the term “value chain”, a model developed by renown academic, Michael Porter, who incidentally is a member of the Presidential Advisory Council?
One of the few success stories is found in Musanze, the Mecca of potato farming in Rwanda. Winnaz makes potato crisps and has first class packaging.
Cassava and maize have also seen some level of transformation though their packaging lacks appeal. But apart from that, they lack a marketing strategy and their after sales service is non-existent. They lose value in the process.
So, tomato farmers should not agonize, they should organize instead, in the words of the Pan African Movement.