Rwamagana chili farmers count losses as price volatility bites

On 11 December 2020 at 08:09

Farmers from Nzige sector in Rwamagana district, Eastern Province have appealed to the Government for support following losses emanating from failure to find market for chili pepper despite increased produce.

The support is sought by farmers grouped in Gwiza Nzige cooperative which invested in the growing of chili and French beans on 50 hectares. As COVID-19 pandemic emerged, the famers’ business collapsed affecting markets that some of the chili is wasting in gardens.

Hazizi Célestin who planted chili on a half hectare said they had invested much after easily finding buyers for the first produce. However, the situation exacerbated with the pandemic that farmers are counting losses.

“Growing chili was a good income generating project to invest in. Farmers were excited with the produce as they got buyers which motivated them to expand acreage. However, chili has ripened and wasted in gardens because we cannot find buyers. I had invested Rwf 2 million but I have only recovered Rwf 1 million,” he said.

He requested the Government to help them find market to recover the capital because some clients canceled their orders.

The President of Gwiza cooperative which grows chili and vegetables in Nzige sector Uwitonze Euphrem explained that there is a problem of poor market conditions despite available big volumes of chili produce from over 50 hectares.

“We harvest at between six and ten chili tons per week but the buyer picks only two of them. This brings losses and discourages farmers who have invested much. We appeal to National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) and our district for advocacy to find market,” he said.

Fred Rwigamba, the Director of Finance and Operations SOUK Investment Group, a firm engaging in growing and exporting fresh horticulture produce from Rwanda, has told IGIHE that they are usually contracted to buy produce from Rubona sector that the produce from Nzige is auxiliary.

“They should be grateful because we help those buying small quantities of their produce. COVID-19 pandemic has affected markets pushing some investors to stop buying their produce. We do it in form of support to farmers because we don’t have large market,” he revealed.

According to the mayor of Rwamagana district, Mbonyumuvunyi Radjab, they have advised farmers to harvest chili and sell it to Rwanda’s market.

“Their venture into growing chili is expensive. However, there is market instability due to the pandemic which put the economy at sea. We advised them to harvest chili and sell the produce to Rwanda’s market even though the price is comparatively lower than what they used to get on the international markets,” he said.

Farmers explain that they used to sell a kilo of chili at Rwf 550 as per agreement with buyers but they currently sell at Rwf 300.

Gwiza Nzige cooperative comprises of 321 members farming on 661 hectares at the hillside and 215 hectares in marshland where they plant chili and maize among other crops.

Rwamagana chili farmers request the Government to help them find market to recover the capital because some clients canceled their orders.