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Will Banana Wine Processing Plant Reduce Woes For Farmers? | New times

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The woes of banana producers could soon end after the adjustment and commissioning of the Rwamagana Community Banana Processing Center, 1.2 billion Rwandan francs.

Construction of the plant began in 2016 in the Mwulire sector of Rwamagana district but has been at a standstill for years.

According to the Auditor General’s 2018/2019 report, the Center was fully built and equipped in January 2019, but at the time of the audit in January 2020, after one year of preparatory activities for operation, it was not not yet assigned to its intended use.

By the time it started producing in 2020, the equipment failed to produce quality drinks due to the limited skills of the workers.

“We didn’t buy any other machines. We only adjusted the existing machines and equipped the workers with the advanced technical skills needed in the production line. At the beginning of April this year, we started production of two S-Mark certified drinks and are in the market, ”said Valens Bazirihe, general manager of the plant at Doing Business.

The two products include “Inkangaza”, a banana beer produced from banana, sorghum and honey and the other is “Ryongo banana beer” produced from banana, sorghum, water and sugar. , he explained.

The woes of banana producers could soon end after the adjustment and operationalization of the Rwamagana Community Banana Processing Center, 1.2 billion Rwandan francs. Photos: courtesy.

The plant which currently employs 17 permanent workers and between 20 and 30 casual workers has the capacity to produce 28,000 liters per day, he said.

“That means 3,500 cases per day. But currently we produce 800 cases a day and not even every day. We are always operating below our production capacity because we are only at the beginning. As we expand the market, increase facilities and meet demand, production capacity will be maximized, ”he said.

Bazirihe said that once production capacity is maximized, the factory will be able to purchase at least 65 tonnes of bananas per day.

Rwamagana Banana Wine Company Ltd has two S-Mark certified products namely Ryongo Banana wine and Inkangaza y’i Buganza already in the market for consumers.

“We want to work with different farmers from all over the eastern province to obtain raw materials and we will sign supply contracts with them,” he said.

He added that they are also designing strategies that will help to meet with agricultural officers and agronomists as well as farmers in the districts to inform them about the size of the demand for raw materials from factories and how farmers can ensure the production. ‘supply.

The general manager added that the factory plans to produce more products, including pure banana juice, banana energy drink, banana liqueur, banana wine and champagne.

Optimistic farmers

Bonaventure Linganwa, a model farmer in the Mwulire area who grows bananas on 2.5 hectares, said the plant would add value to their products.

“Factory workers recently visited a banana growing project. The operationalization of the plant is good news for banana producers. We will be able to access nearby markets. I really need a stable market because I have over 3,000 bananas, ”he said.

Bazirihe said that once production capacity is maximized, the factory will be able to purchase at least 65 tonnes of bananas per day.

He said that before Covid-19, he was supplying the Kayonza district with bananas, but the supply has been disrupted by the pandemic.

“Because the Kayonza factory is not operating as a result due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I sometimes supply them. I hope that the Rwamagana factory will be a market close to my agricultural project. This reduces the transport costs I incurred when sourcing my harvest in Kayonza and elsewhere, ”he added.

David Nsengiyumva, president of the Rwamagana agro-food cooperative, said the factory will help farmers achieve a “stable market”.

“I grow bananas on two hectares. But the bananas used to produce beer are bought at lower prices due to the lack of a stable market. For example, a packet of bananas containing between 30 and 50 kilograms is sold between 1,500 and 3,000 Rwf, while a pack of cooking bananas costs more than 7,000 Rwf. It is a loss for farmers. We hope the factory will add value to our products and avoid promotional prices, ”he said.

Bananas are a traditional and priority crop for food security in Rwanda, cultivated by many, but there is not enough added value to mitigate post-harvest losses.

Globally, the banana sub-sector covers about 23 percent of the total cultivated land in Rwanda, estimated at 900,000 hectares.

Rwanda produced over 759,690 tonnes of cooking bananas in 2018, compared to over 724,540 tonnes in 2017.

Cooking bananas represent more than 40 percent of banana plantations in Rwanda while the rest is used for drinks.

However, farmers suffered post-harvest food losses due to the lack of post-harvest handling technologies.

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

Thanks to the government’s “Uruganda Iwacu” initiative to establish community processing centers, post-harvest losses are expected to be reduced.

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