Suspension of travels between Kigali and other districts has exposed farmers and exporters of agricultural products to post-harvest losses as traders and agronomists can’t access farms on time.
The government recently announced new measures, which included suspension of travels upcountry, as authorities mounted efforts to curtail the spread of the new wave of coronavirus.
Uwantege Angel Rugema started exporting agricultural goods in 2018 under Bahage foods ltd; business was growing to a point of exporting a wide range of food and horticultural products like Avocado, chilli, matooke etc, to Netherlands, Germany and Belgium
She normally works with outgrowers who she supports with seeds, fertilisers and an agronomist and she also buys from them the goods upon harvest.
The model has been working well, but since the travel disruptions that started last year, the support has not been consistent to the farmers because supply and technical support from Kigali has been cut off for long periods.
“It used to be easy to visit farms, send fertilisers and agronomists anytime to the farms but this is not possible now yet they have to take care of fragile nursery beds, even during harvest it is difficult to go there at the time one needs to be there, yet harvest is about timing “Even when one asks for permission, sometimes it takes a week to be approved and by that time a lot is spoiled,” she said.
She said it has also increasingly become difficult to get harvesters, since many of the people even in the villages are sick, some just cough but they can’t be allowed in the garden because of the danger they might pose.