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Rwanda potato farmers to get Processing Plant

Mr. Tony Roberto Nsanganira, Minister of State in charge of Agriculture

Plans are underway to construct an Irish potato processing plant in Musanze District to cut down post-harvest losses, Tony Nsanganira, the State Minister for Agriculture, has said.

Nsanganira was speaking during a tour of the Northern Province on Monday.

He said the processing plant will help transform Irish potatoes into chips and flour.

The plant will be constructed on a 15-hectare piece of land in Gacaca Sector, Musanze District.

A feasibility study has been conducted by a Korean company and the multimillion processing plant will be constructed through Public Private Partnership by June next year, according to officials.

Addressing farmers grouped under Imbaraga farmers union, Nsanganira challenged them to work hard to increase their production.

"We want farmers to be able to live off irish potatoes while providing raw materials to the processing plant," he said.

He advised farmers to use improved seeds to help boost production.

"Work closely with Rwanda Agriculture Board and universities to carry out research on how best to increase production," he told farmers.

Farmers have in the recent past raised concerns about lack of markets to sell their produce which pushed them to sell their harvests at give away prices.

"We have been selling our produce at low prices, far below the cost of production. Now that we are going to have a processing plant around, we hope our produce will fetch better prices," said Issac Nzabarinda, one of the farmers.

He added that they were committed to working hard to produce enough to supply the plant.

"We will meet with owners of the plant to know the quality and quantity of Irish potatoes they need," he added.

Irish potatoes are cultivated on a large scale in the North West districts of the country and during bumper harvests, the production per hectare stands at between 20 and 30 tonnes per hectare, according to officials.

Nsanganira urged farmers and Rab officials to work hard to improve production, saying Irish potatoes can be planted and produced in other areas as well.

Musanze District vice mayor in charge of economic affairs Jean Claude Musabyimana, said the construction will be completed by June next year since both parties have committed to it.

Urugaga Imbaraga is a farmers union bringing together over 25,000 farmers across the country.

Over 70,000 farmers plant Irish potatoes and it is expected that they can satisfy the processing plant once in place.