A fruit vendor in a Kigali market. The New Times

Farmer cooperatives through which members were expected to easily acquire loans are still faced with management challenges which makes banks shy away, Joséphine Umurerwa, told a meeting convened in Kigali to discuss fertiliser marketing strategy in Rwanda.

The meeting, held Thursday, drew representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, farmers, agro dealers, financial institutions as wells as USAID and International Finance Development Company (IFDC).

Umurerwa added that low profitability of agricultural projects and price fluctuations of farm produce are among the challenges banks cite to deny farmers credit.

“The cooperatives are disorganised and not operational, the managers’ education is low and they cannot manage credit,” she said.

“Maintaining liquidity in agriculture dependent areas amid economic crisis and unpredictable agricultural risks is still a challenge for us as banks.”

Lack of access to credit facilities means many farmers find it hard to purchase inputs such as fertilisers which are critical in agricultural production.

The meeting considered designing a privatisation strategy which could boost access to fertilisers.

“We want to build on the success as we go forward and develop a roadmap with a list of actions to make a smooth and systematic transition in fertiliser use,” Balu Bumba, policy and trade specialist for IFDC, told the meeting.

The government, through Crop Intensification Program-CIP, has promoted the use of fertilisers in the country by offering subsidies on them.

The amount of fertilisers imported by the government stood at 46,000 metric tonnes.

Juvenal Musine, from a farmers group known as Imbaraga, said farmers’ ignorance and delays in distribution was also to blame for low fertiliser use.

However, Raphael Rurangwa, Director General of Planning and Programme Coordination in the Ministry of Agriculture, is optimistic that building a proper production and supply chain would boost farmers’ access to fertilisers.

“We need to build strong partnership with the private sector to have a common goal on how we can develop this input,” he said.

According to Dr. Charles Murekezi, from Ministry of Agriculture, the government is currently distributing Urea, DAP, NPK-17-17-17 fertilisers that are largely used by maize, wheat, and horticulture farmers.

A subsidy of 50 per cent was put on DAP and Urea fertilisers, he said.

Retail prices for fertilisers currently stand at Rwf380 per kilo of

NPK, Rwf600 for DAP per kilo and Urea is at Rwf470 per kilo.

IFDC’s, intervention focuses on increasing productivity across the agricultural value chain in developing countries.

By Dias Nyesiga, The New Times

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