NGOMA - Banana prices have seen a sharp decline in Ngoma District, sparking fears amongest local farmers about the future of their income. This is attributed partly to the dry season which has affected market conditions.
A mini survey carried out by The New Times established that a bunch of banana cost between Rwf500 and 1000 down from the normal Rwf3000 months ago.
Farmers who talked to this reporter expressed dismay over the downward trend, saying they were counting losses.
“We are doing very badly, and indeed it is advantageous only to the consumers,” farmers said.
The price drop has subsequently affected prices of banana by-products. In Ngoma, products made from bananas and banana plants including beer, wine, juice, sauce had also seen their prices plummeting.
The cause and effect relationship has seen a litre of local wine reduced to Rwf50 from a high of Rwf 250.
The main traditional staple food for people of Ngoma district is bananas. The drastic drop in banana prices has thus come as a great blessing to consumers as opposed to producers.
“This is an interesting period for us in Ngoma. The fact that the price of our staple food is now down pleases us a lot,” said Richard Ngabonziza a resident of Mutenderi Sector.
Another farmer upon being interviewed said the low prices affect general development of the district.
“Lack of markets, limited value addition and high post-harvest losses are some of the key factors that have hindered Ngoma District from making the most of its bananas and plantains,” Raul Mugabo, 50, a resident of Kibimba village observed.
Local dynamics are such that Banana growing despite being widely practised has not established a critical mass of sales to other regions due in part to marketing constraints. Most of the produce is consumed by residents.
Authorities in the district say they are soliciting expert knowledge and ideas to change the way bananas are produced and marketed in the region.