The Board Chairman of the Post Harvest and Storage Taskforce in the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI), Francois Nsengiyumva, has said that the ministry expects 300,000 metric tonnes of surplus maize by the end of this month.
Nsengiyumva made the remarks as Premier Pierre Damien Habumuremyi toured the leading maize milling factory, MINIMEX on Monday.
“We expect about 700,000 tonnes by the end of this month. Our market consumption is 400,000 tonnes and we will remain with a surplus of 300,000 tonnes of maize,” said Nsengiyumva.
He added that the surplus will be stored in silos as the ministry plans on future use. Procedurally, the ministry collects maize from the farmers and solicits for markets.
But Nsengiyumva said that MINAGRI has 2,000 tonnes of maize in its stores that it has failed to sell.
“Our main client is MINIMEX; we had put up these 2,000 tonnes for auctioning but unfortunately, MINIMEX told us at the last minute that they were not participating in the bid,” said Nsengiyumva.
The Prime Minister wondered why MINIMEX could not hurriedly take the produce yet it produces below its capacity since its establishment five years ago, asking the plant’s management why it never picked an interest in buying the maize.
The Board Chairman of MINIMEX, Felicien Mutalikanwa, said that the ministry had set conditions that were unfavourable to them as bidders.
“They wanted cash which we did not readily have. We have frequently requested the Ministry to give us maize and we process it, but they always insist on getting cash first. We can’t just release money without assurance that the maize is of first class quality,” said Mutalikanwa. He added that they only buy from the ministry when they have cash at hand.
“In most cases, we end up buying maize from Tanzania since we are allowed to examine its quality before we issue out a cheque,” Mutalikanwa revealed.
Nsengiyumva said that government has also invested a lot of money in maize production and to sustain this, there was need to encourage farmers to sustain production levels.
The Prime Minister wondered why the ministry has a floating stock of maize that may decompose yet the milling factory could process it and pay later.
“I don’t understand how the ministry has maize surplus yet a local factory is lacking business; do you want a foreigner to come and buy off everything while local factories have nothing to do?” the Premier wondered.
He ordered the ministry to work out a plan with MINIMEX to ensure that the factory is supplied with quality maize at all times.