Rwandan farmers’ cooperative commission maize milling factory to boost value addition

RWANDA – Rwanda’s Cooperative Twihangire Umurimo (COTUMU), loosely translated as ‘Create jobs for ourselves’ has launched a Rwf125 million (US$133,000) maize milling plant to address the challenge of post-harvest losses by adding value to their produce.

The 1,122 members of COTUMU raised Rwf85million (US$90,000) while Government contributed Rwf40million (US$42,500) for them to set up the plant which has a production capacity of 5 tons of maize flour a day.

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The factory started its operations this month.

The maize flour produced is sold across Gakenke District, Northern Rwanda and its environs at Rwf3, 000 (US$3) for 5kilograms, 10 kilograms at Rwf6, 000 (US$6) while a sack of 25kilograms goes for Rwf13, 000 (US$13).

According to Jean Nepo Hakorimana, the factory manager, said the idea for the factory was inspired by the need to boost the livelihoods of cooperative members by contributing to the country’s development through maize value chain.

“Farmers made losses every harvesting season since the cooperative couldn’t sell out all the produce, we therefore agreed on having a factory that would add value to our produce,” he said.

The factory manager pointed at incessant power shortages as their main hindrance towards optimal production thus calling on the district to weigh in for a sustainable solution.

Gakenke District vice mayor for economic development Aimé François Niyonsenga said, “The factory is timely given a number of challenges that farmers faced previously, we also believe that it will eventually contribute to the district progress as it provided jobs; that’s the main reason we are looking forward to further collaborations towards making more sustainable.”

Niyonsenga assured that the district will support the factory in whatever way for the later overcome all the challenges.

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“We are aware of the power shortage that continues to affect the factory and we are talking to the Rwanda Energy Group for a sustainable remedy that will be availed in the very short possible period,” he said

Maize is among the other crops that are largely grown in Gakenke. The crop was planted at about 18,000hectares in the last planting season and this season, it is projected to increase to 26,000 hectares.

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