Rice farmers in Bugarama valley, Rusizi district are facing hunger after rice processing plants in Rusizi district failed to buy all their produce rendering some of it to waste.
Farmers from, especially, Kuryambere have explained that rice processing plants bought only a small portion of their yields leaving the rest to suffer post-harvest losses and shrunk incomes subjecting them to harsh survival, incapable of meeting some necessities including buying other foods.
Farmers usually collect their harvest which they sell through cooperatives, processed and get paid. It was not done that way this time which, they say, has created hardships.
“Investors in Bugarama valley do not have adequate capacity to buy all the rice produced here. They bring only two trucks to ferry rice harvest and return after a week. It would be better if the government brought other active and capable investors,” said one farmer, Uwiringiyimana Pierre.
“We neither have beans nor maize. We only expected survival from rice so when it was not bought, we were left susceptible to starving,” added another farmer, Muhimpundu Sara.
Singiranabo Anne Marie explained that lack of market for rice affects their health.
“I have harvested and haven’t been able to sell my non-processed rice for a whole month. It affects me. I can’t afford medical insurance. Indeed nurses refused to treat my child because I had the expired Mituelle de santé membership card,” she said.
Kankindi Léoncie, the Rusizi vice mayor in charge of economic affairs says that they can’t call processing plants from outside the district to buy locally produced rice because the existing ones have potential.
“Farmers want to receive payments as soon as they harvest. Ours rice processing plants have demonstrated capacities to process well all the collected harvest,” she said.
Habyarimana Antoine, the president of the Association of Cooperatives of Rice Farmers in Bugarama valley explained that only ‘Basomati’ kind of rice is not desired on the market and traders avoid buying it.