Farmers in Rubavu district, Western province are desperate after producing thousands of tons of onions and failing to secure any market.
Currently, onion farmers from six sectors of Rubavu district are stranded with 3,850 tonnes they cannot store safely or sell which is leading to heavy loss.
The Rubavu District vice Mayor for Economic Development, Deogratias Nzabonimpa told Kigali Today on Thursday, that they are searching for the market, but none is ready to take at least a half of the stock.
“We are negotiating with the private sector in Gisenyi town and Goma town in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We export 12 tonnes of onions to Goma, but negotiations would reach to an agreement to increase to 20 tons weekly,” Nzabonimpa said.
The officials said they are also looking forward to negotiating with Bukavu town in Southen Kivu for a potential 100 tons weekly market.
The concern is however, that both markets cannot take them all, yet onions cannot wait.
“Moisture content is high in our onions and this is worsened by lack of sunshine this rainy season.” said Jerome Iradukunda, an onion farmer in Rubavu.
In the district, 468 farmers grew onions on 202 hectares this season in Busasamana (786 tonnes), Mudende (1,240 tons) and Cyanzarwe with 922 tonnes.
Jaribu Jean Baptiste, another farmer, said that they have already dumped tons of onions and are already counting loss. A kilogram of onions is estimated to Rwf 400 at Kimironko market in Gasabo District, Kigali city.
A bag of onions, some 30 kilograms is now available at as low as Rwf 3,000 and even less.
Rubavu district mayor said that there is a need for farmers to know the market trends.
“In 2017 and 2018, we had a problem of huge Irish potato harvest, bur vegetable growers were safe. Today, the trend has reversed. Farmers may need to learn market trends,” said Mayor Gilberty Habyarimana.
However, In the 2020/2021 performance contract, his district raised the bar high and committed to grow vegetables on 694 hectares, so far, 609 hectares have been covered.
Last week, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources(Minagri) blame the lockdown on lack of onions’ market and said, that they are working with local leaders to get farmers a breakthrough.