Several countries, including Zambia and South Sudan, have expressed interest in Rwanda’s Irish potatoes, a development that could turn around the fortunes of farmers and expand the country’s exports base and revenue.
Francois Kanimba, the Minister for Trade and Industry, said farmers must now double their efforts to satisfy the growing local and regional demand for Irish potatoes and ensure quality along the value chain.
Kanimba was addressing farmers and traders during a breakfast meeting organised by Private Sector Federation’s (PSF) Chamber of Agriculture.
“It is critical for farmers to focus on producing for the export market because that’s when you will benefit more from your efforts,” he said.
Kanimba also revealed that the government and PSF will soon set up a wholesale market for Irish potatoes in Kigali to ease market access for farmers.
“This will help remove middlemen, who have been exploiting farmers,” the minister said.
Kanimba was optimistic the market will raise morale among farmers since they will be assured of a ready market.
The market, to be built in Gisozi sector, will serve as a selling point for Irish potatoes in the City of Kigali.
Christine Murebwayire, the Association of Rwanda Farmers chairperson, said the market will organise both farmers and traders, noting that it will also help promote Irish potato export trade.
Murebwayire, also the Chamber of Agriculture chairperson, however, noted that farmers still lack access to quality seeds, fertilisers and finance, besides being exploited by middlemen.
Yvette Mukarwema, the chief operations officer at PSF, said the wholesale market will tackle challenges, like price uncertainty, which farmers have endured for years.
She added that PSF’s partnership with government will improve the industry.
– The New Times