Banana farmers in Southern Province have decried poor pricing, high packaging and transportation costs, which expose them to losses.
Etienne Nzabonimpa, a banana farmer from Gishamvu sector in Huye District, told Rwanda Today that he may incur losses next year due to high operation costs and interest rates charged on bank loans he acquired to boost his business.
“I used to purchase each banana sucker between Rwf2,000 and Rwf3,000 and plant around 300 suckers. All could cost me about Rwf800,000 and earn more than Rwf4 million per season.
But these days, the price of suckers increased to between Rwf3,000 and Rwf4,000 and the harvest doesn’t go beyond Rwf1.5 million per season,” he said.
Last season, he spent Rwf3 million, but at harvest, he received only Rwf 2.5 million.
“If the current price doesn’t change, we shall stop growing yellow bananas and resort to plantains and other crops like Irish potatoes, which bring high returns,” he says.
He said a 45 kilogramme bunch of banana goes for between Rwf4,000 and Rwf5,000, which he said is less than what a farmer invested in production.
Mr Nzabonimpa said traders in Kigali market and hotels buy each yellow banana finger at between Rwf35 and Rwf50 depending on its size. This, he said, is little compared with the price sold in the market.
“We want the government to intervene and set prices that are favourable to us. At least one a banana fruit should be bought from the farmer at Rwf50 up to Rw80.”
Farmers said they have been raising this issue in different meetings, but nothing has been done to discuss price risk management.
Farmers also pointed out that they are aware about appreciating good prices of banana fruit in the international market, but lack of enough information about how to take their produce there remains a great challenge.
“We are aware that some farmers lack information, trainings on how they can trade abroad, but this is an issue the ministry has under its strategies next year to ensure farmers also get skills on how to carry out trade abroad,” said Ministry of Trade.
“We know that lack of information about exportation processes to farmers is a hindrance towards development and generating enough funds from their produce,” the ministry added.
He advised farmers to always ensure production of quality goods because most of the times quality determines the price.
Alphonse Nsabimana, a banana farmer, said: “We have tried to maintain the quality of our bananas by taking to the nearby markets in the province, but lack of information on pricing in the export market and government intervention has been a big setback.”
He noted also that many youths are getting involved in banana farming thereby ensuring future growth through increased production.
Rwanda Today has learnt that banana farmers in Huye District produce and sell to middlemen without adding value and as a result, they find it difficult to influence prices.
Emmanuel Murwanashaka, a wholesaler banana trader in Kigali complex market in Nyarugenge District, said mature bananas get good prices in the market.
He also observed that one of the factors contributing to low prices of banana is the increase in the number of suppliers yet the domestic demand remains stagnant.
“For instance, even if suppliers increase from 10 to 20, buyers will not change thus making the produce to float in the market,” he said.