Farmers listed by credit bureaus in maize supply deal gone sour

Monday April 13 2020

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Sacks of maize ready to be delivered to the market  in Eastern Province. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

LEONCE MUVUNYI
By LEONCE MUVUNYI
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Thousands of farmers are unable to access credit after they were listed as a bad borrower by credit reference bureau, Rwanda Today has learnt. 

However, the farmers say, this was done without notice by Urwego Opportunity Bank, which gave a loan to a private investor who contracted the farmers to supply maize to his factory. 

The farmers are currently locked in a court case between Urwego Opportunity Bank (UOP) and the maize processing factory — Bugesera Agribusiness Company Ltd (BABC). 

The bank is seeking to recover at least Rwf1 billion.  “Urwego Opportunity Bank linked us with BABC as a potential buyer of our maize and also to benefit from its expertise in ensuring the produce meets the processors’ standards.

However, afterwards, we found ourselves blacklisted to access any loans,” said Devothe Kamuyumbo, a farmer in Bugesera district.

Currently, there are over 1,600 farmers from 28 co-operatives across Gatsibo, Ngoma, Bugesera and Kayonza districts whose names are listed as defaulters by credit reference bureaus.

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Farmers maintain that they fulfilled their obligation to supply maize.  According to the farmers under the memorandum of understanding inked on November 2014, the farmers were to benefit from the reliable market of their maize and get an advance payment for their deliveries.

According to the contract, farmers were to get an advance payment from UOP under the BABC’s assurance and after supplying their production, BABC was to pay the farmers the remaining amount.

According to the co-operatives’ management, as the whole maize production was supplied through the them, some farmers were not members of cooperatives whose production supplied to the factory are as well cought up in debt.

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