Three Ministers who have links with farmers and trade have settled a persistent conflict between Irish potatoes farmers and a company that had got a deal to buy and supply their harvest.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Minister of Agriculture, accompanied by Minister of Local government and local leaders spent their Sunday with the Irish potato farmers of Northern and Western Provinces.
This follows another meeting of the ministers in Kigali to solve the same problem in potatoes post-harvest handling which has been affecting the farmers with some pulling out from farming.
Farmers’ cooperatives with favourite Irish potatoes from volcanic soil said that Agro Processing Trust Corporation (APTC) has caused them loss in several scenarios.
They said that first of all, they harvest their potatoes and APTC spends a whole week, even two before coming to pick the harvest on roadside, which causes them loss.
Also, farmers complained that the company is charging them Rwf12 per kilogram which they said, “does not make sense.”
In a meeting that KT Radio’s Ishimwe Rugira Gisele attended on Sunday afternoon in Musanze district, it was decided that, “APTC should pull-out from buying potatoes from farmers ‘cooperatives and the latter will sell the harvest themselves.”
However, the Ministers said, managers of farmers ‘cooperatives should assure a smooth selling of the harvest.
One of the Minister was even heard quoting the Head of State, that, “he does not want to hear any issue about farmers losing their harvest because of poor post-harvest handling.”
Early this year, thirty trucks were impounded in what the police called ‘illegal trade because the trucks acquired the potatoes not from the company that had won deal to buy them.’
In the same period of year, hundreds of tons in Nyabihu and Rubavu districts decomposed after harvest because there was no one to transport them to the market in Kigali and other markets across the country.
Consumers in other areas continued to buy potatoes at very high price.
The new decision to give power for cooperatives to sell own harvest mainly affects potato growing districts of Musanze, Nyabihu, Rubavu and Burera, the main country suppliers of irish potatoes.
Currently, a kilogram of irish potatoes is between Rwf140 to Rwf170 in Musanze district and goes up to Rwf250 in Kimironko market.