Maize milling firm aims to reap crop’s potential

Minimex, Rwanda’s leading maize processing company has set sight on mobilising resources to expand maize plantations, saying that the crop has potential to lift people out of poverty.

Minimex, Rwanda’s leading maize processing company has set sight on mobilising resources to expand maize plantations, saying that the crop has potential to lift people out of poverty.

The company recently benefited from €825,000 (Rwf465 million) under PSOM for the pilot project that will see about 200 hectares of quality maize planted.

PSOM is a Programme for Cooperation with emerging markets to stimulate investments and commercial cooperation between Dutch companies and companies in several developing countries.

MINIMEX management says that they are looking for extra funds to extend the plantations to about 800 hectares in order to lessen maize imports into Rwanda.  

“Maize production in Rwanda has remained low for many years. We import 90 percent from Tanzania but we anticipate that production will increase with the country’s green revolution move,” Felicien Mutalikanwa, CEO of Minimex said in an interview last week.

The company imports maize from Tanzania and Uganda.The proposed investments are expected to create heavy yields that will later improve the balance of payment.

Statistics show that in 2006, some 61,393 tonnes of maize were produced, a 13 percent increase compared to 46,362 tonnes produced in 2005. Maize is grown on 35,000 hectares countrywide and contributes 4.1 per cent of Rwanda’s total food crop production.

Mutalikanwa said Rwandans have not yet identified the “magic” in maize crop, pertaining to its role in food security, nutrition and poverty reduction.

“Maize corn, beans are sustainable and essential to food security in our country. It’s cheap to grow and a very good source of revenue,” Mutalikanwa said.

He added that maize can be grown anywhere in the country and does not require extensive irrigation, frequent applications of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

MINMEX, which started business at the end of 2006, has installed a machine that can grind 144 tonnes per day but since last year the company has been working at eight percent of its milling capacity.

The factory has also constructed stock and driers in the Eastern province that would see crops kept for six months.

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