NYAMAGABE - Wheat farmers in Nyamagabe District are stuck with tonnes of wheat after their sole buyer; Minoterie de Nyungwe, a wheat processing factory, failed to buy their produce due to financial constraints.
In an interview with The New Times, Emmanuel Murangwa, the Vice Mayor in charge of Economic Affairs, acknowledged the problem which he blamed on the owner of the only wheat processing factory in the province, one Venant Kabandana.
“Kabandana run into financial trouble with banks, he could not borrow from them so as to buy farmers’ produce,” said Murangwa.
According to Murangwa, the district has put in place contingency plans to ensure that farmers do not lose out.
“One of the measures taken has been to encourage cooperatives to buy some of the produce.
Other organisations like CARITAS and the Rwanda Agriculture Development Agency have stepped in to buy some of the produce,” Murangwa disclosed.
In a telephone interview with The New Times, Kabandana acknowledged that the factory had run into financial trouble. He, however, added that the Ministry of Commerce is partly to blame for his woes.
“I am in discussions with banks to resolve the issue, but the Ministry of Commerce also has a hand in the problems that we are faced with today,” said Kabandana.
He declined to elaborate on the role of the Ministry in the problems the factory is faced with when pressed further.
Joseph Ndabamenye, a member of UNICOPAGI, a cooperative that is buying some of the wheat, told The New Times that most of the wheat bought will be stored.
“We have so far bought 60 tonnes of wheat which we hope to sell in future or use it as seed for the next planting season,” said Ndabamenye.
With a kilogram of wheat going for Rwf270, Ndabamenye said that the cooperative does not have enough financial means to buy all the produce brought by farmers to the market. He called for government’s intervention.
“The government should set up a body to buy farmers’ produce like it is done in other countries; it could in-turn sell to international organisations. Alternatively government could support the private sector to invest in the wheat processing industry,” he said.
Nyamagabe District is one of the leading producers of wheat in the country with wheat being the leading crop grown in the sectors of Tare, Uwinkingi, Kitabi, Buruhukiro, Musebeya, Gatare, and Nkomane.
Last season, the district planted over 4000ha of wheat over and above the planned 3,000ha. Over 12,000 tonnes of wheat are ready for sale.