Beef or any other meat has become very expensive in Rwanda and hotels are considering importing only from countries not affected by avian flu.
But what is wrong with Rwandan meat? local suppliers buy meat that has only been inspected by Vets without analyzing the standard of meat- from the farmers to the end user.
Also no Rwandan meat supplier is certified to supply meat (red and white) that meet international standards –commonly known as the ‘SMark’ Standardization Mark.
“Local suppliers have not been keen to the meat value chain and that is why no hotel can buy local meat unless it is certified and monitored from farm to slaughter house and to consumer,” said Jean Pierre Bageneza, a Product Certification officer at Rwanda Standards Bureau (RSB).
According to Rwanda Development Board (RDB), locally processed meat is said to be hard as a result of loopholes in the value chain. Therefore, high-end hotels and flight catering services are purchasing meat imported from as far as South Africa avoiding embarrassment of serving local hard meat.
For example five star hotels Marriot Hotel Kigali and ESR-Rwanda- a flight catering company, import undisclosed tons of meat from South African to meet the local market demand, which has also seen an increase in tourism.
“Being a country endowed with lots of livestock, it is unimaginable that we cannot supply meat because we don’t meet international standards. We need to act now,” said Joy Bamwenge, the SME Development Expert at RDB.
Figures from the Statistics Year Book – 2016 indicate that Meat exports volumes (Kg) have increased from 3,655,694 in 2014-2015 to 5,470,946.28 Kg in 2015-2016, with an increase in Revenues from over USD12.9million to USD19.2million.
Most of this meat is however, supplied to the neighboring countries (especially DR Congo) and the rest is consumed locally leaving a gap in tapping into big money in hotels and aviation sector.
To close this gap, RDB and RSB has tasked suppliers to up their game, and by providing a training on Hazzard Analysis and Critical Control points (HACC) 60 meat processing firms may see a chance of getting SMark certified.
“Besides the training, government will meet half of the cost of the certificate paying 50 percent of the cost which currently stands at Rwf400,000, way cheaper than Kenyans who have to pay $450,” said Maurice Twahirwa the RDB public relations officer.
Statistics from RSB indicate that so far 369 products from Rwanda has the SMark. These include milk, cereals, drinking water among others which are sold on the international and regional market, but not meat from Rwanda.
Meanwhile, last week, Rwanda’s Agriculture ministry issued a communiqué effectively banning importation of both chicken and eggs from Uganda and Europe.
“Due to avian flu traced in Uganda’s Entebbe and Masaka districts, all poultry imports from Uganda will be stopped until further notice,” said the statement.
“The security organs at all boarders of the country should be aware and put in practice the measures to make sure the disease does not cross into Rwanda,” said Gerardine Mukeshimana the Agriculture Minister.