Good roads vital for farmers to access markets

Last week, rice farmers in Nyamasheke District, Western Province appealed to government for help to access markets for their produce.

Last week, rice farmers in Nyamasheke District, Western Province appealed to government for help to access markets for their produce.

Leaders of about eight cooperatives expressed fears over the lack of access to markets for their produce, key challenges they have been facing in the past.

Some of the representatives of the cooperatives said they are stuck with tonnes of unsold rice in their stores largely due to transport bottlenecks. Transport is a big hindrance, they said. It takes more than six hours to get to Bugarama factory, which is the nearest market for their produce.

Over 80 per cent of Rwandans still depend on agriculture for a living.  Agriculture transformation is interlinked with infrastructure development. The two play a key role in improving the lives of the farmers. Good infrastructure means that farmers are able to transport their produce to the market and also buyers are able to reach farmers and buy their produce from the fields.

The government has allocated 37 per cent of this year’s budget to what it called ‘foundational issues’ in the country’s life such as health, education and social protection. In line with this, there is need for more investment in the construction of feeder roads to prevent post-harvest losses. Sustained markets for farm produce lead to a booming agricultural sector, which eventually spur economic growth and socio-economic transformation. Road construction and maintenance should, therefore, be given due attention.

Experts believe that comprehensive rural infrastructure development has wider impact on human development. A well-maintained road network can sustain the needed transport needs for farmers and buyers of agricultural products.

Also, jobs and employment are created where functioning infrastructure exists. Trading centres and industries flourish as a result of developed road infrastructure.

A good road network will enable trade and commercial activities to blossom. This in turn ensures timely delivery of produce to markets.

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