Ebola in DRC robs Rwanda dairy farmers of livelihood

Wednesday September 11 2019

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A man receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse outside the Afia Himbi Health Centre in Goma, DR Congo on July 15, 2019. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
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The ebola epidemic has placed hurdles on cross-border informal trade between Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Currently, movements to DRC – a key market for the farmers – is restricted due to precautionary measures being taken to avoid spread of the disease.

For instance, milk processing companies are operating below the capacity due to restriction on movement of traders.

The concern comes at a time when the dairy farmers are bracing for a high milk season during the rainy season.

In peak seasons, the country produces about two million litres of milk daily of which only 30 per cent is absorbed by a few processors.

For a long time, farmers have had to sell the rest informally to the neighbouring countries. Farmers in the Western Gishwati-Nyabihu area neighbouring DRC told Rwanda Today, that have started feeling the pinch.

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“We shall have nowhere to sell milk. We have already started feeling the effects in just two months,” said Pacifique Nduguteyi, a farmer and milk wholesaler based in Mbugangari area of Rubavu.

Mr Nduguteyi has two shops where he sold more than 400 litres of milk daily largely to Congolese clients.

“I’m hardly selling 180 litres per day. I had to close one shop because even small suppliers who took it to the Congo side no longer go there.

I was buying from five farmers, now I can only buy from two,” he said Milk surplus had made neighbouring countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi the target of informal markets for most farmers in the border communities.

Between March and November last year, surplus milk was exported to Kenyan market through Uganda.

As farmers prepare for the peak milk season, major dairy farming areas are staring at lower prices and possible losses since the local market cannot absorb all their produce.

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