RWANDA – The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is planning to pilot a project to process fresh eggs into egg powder in Rwanda, in a bid to find a lasting solution to lack of a ready market for farmers.
Under the pilot project, expected to start by the end of November this year, FAO will invest around US$400,000 (Rwf400 million).
According to Gualbert Gbehounou, Country Representative at FAO, the initiative will be implemented in partnership with the private sector.
“We want to test a small egg processing plant,” he said, indicating that the poultry industry investors can pick up the initiative and set up a larger-scale egg processing plant.
Talking about the contribution that the development would have to the country’s poultry sector, he highlighted that farmers will have minimal loss from fresh egg production, as the units will process the eggs into products with longer shelf-life.
“If you have egg powder, it drives, for example the pastry sector internally,” he said, indicating that people engaged in the bakery industry have been importing egg powder to use in their industry.
“Instead of importing egg powder, we’ll have it now locally produced,” Gbehounou said.
Other than offering ready market to the farmers, the initiative will stabilize egg prices which have been highly fluctuating depending on supply in the market.
Gbehounou said that efforts have been put in place grow the poultry sector and increasing egg production, but farmers lacked market for their eggs especially as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which disrupted the supply chains including the market.
As an immediate measure, he said, institutions including the World Food Programme, and UNICEF put in money to buy eggs for institutions such Early Childhood Development [ECD] centres.
But, Gbehounou indicated that was not enough. To help address the issue in a sustainable manner, he said that FAO has considered piloting fresh egg processing into egg powder.
“During the first weeks of Covid-19 pandemic, we had so many eggs that were rotten, and it was a huge loss. They were rotten because poultry farmers can only sell fresh eggs, yet lacked buyers.
“But, if you have a plant that transforms them into powder, at least you have powdered eggs and you can store it and sell it afterwards,” he said, explaining that the development provides better access to market.
According to the livestock sector master plan developed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources in December 2017, the total egg production from Rwanda’s poultry is expected to increase from 244 million in 2017 to 513 million by 2022.
The country planned to increase its chicken population from 7 million in 2018 to 11 million chickens by 2023, a move that could see egg production rise by 143 per cent, according to information from the Ministry.