The New Times (Kigali)

10 July 2014

Rwanda: All Work and No Gains for Gicumbi Farmers Over 'impassable' Road

Residents of Nyankenke Sector in Gicumbi District have decried the poor state of the road linking the area to Byumba trading centre.

In interviews, the residents said the district had not paid much attention to the road.

Despite the high food production, most farmers sell their produce cheaply due to the poor state of the road linking them to the market.

They say a 50kg sack of carrots costs between Rwf8, 000 and Rwf10, 000 which they argue is little compared to their input.

If there was an access road linking to the market, the situation would be better," said Thomas Gakwerere, a resident.

The farmers said buyers cite the poor state of the road as the reason for the low prices.

"A 50kg sack of carrots goes for Rwf15, 000 in Byumba trading centre, but getting there is difficult because drivers shun this road," added Gakwerere.

Gakwerere said farmers who do not want to sell their produce cheaply trek 15 kilometres to Byumba carrying produce on their heads.

"You can imagine carrying a 50kg sack on your head for a distance of 15 kilometres," he added.

Claudine Nyirahabimana, another resident and cleaner in Byumba trading centre, said workers often get to their jobs late due to the poor state of the road.

"I have to wake up at 4am and walk for three hours to Byumba," she said.

The farmers said they may never reap enough from their sweat unless the road is fixed.

"Farming would be a reliable source of income for us but we hardly benefit from it," said Jean Bosco Mugwiza, another farmer.

The farmers have appealed to the government for intervention.

According to district officials, the area is known for producing 85 per cent of vegetables in the district, grown on 15 hectares in Yaramba wetland of Nyankenke sector.

Contacted for a comment, Stanislas Kagenzi, the district vice-mayor in charge of finance and economic affairs, acknowledged the problem, pointing out that over 400,000 residents of Gicumbi District depend on farming for a living.

Kagenzi said having a tarmac road is not possible at the moment, but added that the district is upgrading feeder roads linking to the markets.

"We are doing our best to construct as many feeder roads as we can. The next one will be Yaramba-Mashyiga-Burera road which will save the situation," Kagenzi said.

He added that they have spent over Rwf309m on feeder roads in the area, with another Rwf40m expected to be spent this fiscal year on Nyankenke road, which connects to Byumba trading centre.

Kagenzi said that the district will have better roads by 2016.

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