Rwanda launches new banana alcoholic beverages produced in recently opened US$1.2m factory

RWANDA – Rwanda has commenced operations at its Rwf1.2 billion (US$1.2m), Rwamagana Banana Community Processing Centre, producing banana alcoholic beverages.

The factory which set turbines of its machines rolling in the beginning of April, has a production capacity of 28,000 litres per day i.e., 3,500 crates.

According to reports by The New Times Rwanda, construction works for the facility started in 2016, but stalled for years.

The center was fully constructed and equipped in January 2019 with production starting in 2020.

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However, they were again met with slight set-back of equipment failure and limited skills of workers.

“We didn’t buy any other machinery. We have only adjusted the existing machinery and equipped workers with advanced technical skills needed in the production chain.

“In the beginning of April this year, we started production of two beverage products certified with S-Mark and are on the market,” Valens Bazirihe, The factory’s Managing Director said.

Rwamagana’s first flagship products are Ryongo Banana wine and Inkangaza y’i Buganza beer which are already in the market.

“In the beginning of April this year, we started production of two beverage products certified with S-Mark and are on the market.”

Valens Bazirihe, Managing Director Rwamagana Banana Community Processing Centre

The factory which is currently employing 17 permanent workforce and between 20 and 30 casual laborers, is operating below capacity level as they are still in the formative stage.

“We are currently producing 800 crates per day and not even every day. We are still operating below production capacity. As we expand the market, increase facilities and experience, production capacity will be maximized,” said Valens.

The factory plans to produce more products including pure juice from banana, banana energy drink, banana liquor, banana wine and champagne.

Once production capacity is maximized, the factory will be able to buy at least 65 tonnes of banana per day from farmers, who will have access to direct market.

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Banana cultivation in Rwanda covers about 23 per cent of the entire cultivated land in the country, estimated at 165,000 ha.

The fruit production averages at about 2.5 million metric tons per year, highlights FAO.

Cooking banana accounts for over 40% of the plantation, 10% for dessert, while the rest is for beverages.

However, farmers have been incurring post-harvest losses due to lack of proper handling and storage technologies and lack of market.

According to the fourth Strategic Plan for Agriculture Transformation (PSTA 4), Rwanda seeks to reduce post-harvest losses for Banana for from 15 percent in 2016 to 9 percent in 2024.

Through the government initiative ‘Uruganda Iwacu’ to set up community processing centres, post-harvest losses are expected to be reduced.

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