RUBAVU – Gisenyi town traders have called upon the government to restrict exportation of foodstuffs to control the rising of food costs.
“We can’t imagine how a kilogram of Irish potatoes can go up to Frw130 here in Gisenyi yet Rubavu and our neighboring district of Nyabihu are considered some of the main producers of Irish potatoes,” wondered Jean Paul Iyamuremye one of the residents.
He explained that the steady rise in prices of food was caused by the big number of Burundian traders who flock Nyabihu and Rubavu to buy tonnes of Irish potatoes which is exported to Bujumbura.
“We have heard other countries like Kenya put restrictions on specific food exports such as maize in order to have enough for the population. I think that policy should be used in Rwanda to reduce on the huge amount of Irish potatoes taken to the neighboring countries to prevent food shortages,” he said.
However, Leopordian Nyangufi, the chairperson of Sasaneza, one of the women’s Irish potatoes growers’ associations in Kabatwa, in Nyabihu, said the high demand is a blessing to farmers.
“Yes its true some of our buyers come from Bujumbura, they come to Kabatwa with lories to buy and take Irish potatoes to their country. Although this might be a problem to some other people, it’s a blessing to us farmers because we get a lot out of our products,” she said. She said the increased demand prices offered to farmers have risen from Frw60 a few months ago to Frw120.
“We live far from the main road and far from markets but buyers find us to buy our products at good prices,” she said.
According to Nyangufi, farmers’ associations in Kabatwa sector this year managed to buy 15 Daihatsu Lories to help in transporting their produce.
“The fifteen Daihatsu were bought from only the harvest of this years’ season B. Irish has helped farmers to construct themselves good houses, take their children to good schools among other things,” she said.
Jean Mirima, Nyabihu District Agricultural Officer also suggested that the rising prices of Irish potatoes was connected to high demand.
“The production has greatly increased from the previous 19 to 35tonnes of Irish potatoes per hectare due to improved farming methods and use of modern fertilisers. I think the current prices are influenced by the huge demand,” he said.
He called upon residents and farmers to always avoid selling all they have, but keep some to take them to the next season.