Rwanda: Heavy Rains Affect Bean Production

18 January 2020

Rain has been "too much" this season, and has not done any good to crops like beans and soya. Farmers and consumers are worried that the prices of rice on market will hike sooner than they used to.

For centuries, beans have been the main food staple for Rwandans; traditionally, they have been mainly grown in Season A (September-January), while Season B (February-June) was mainly for sorghum.

For more than a decade now, however, the two main seasons of the year have been characterised by rotation between maize and beans.

In Rushubi Village, Nyagatugunda Cell, Zaza Sector, Ngoma District, Anastasie Kandero, a farmer, is drying her beans she just harvested. She tells The New Times that due to the heavy rains of November and December, production was poor.

"We got 50 kilogrammes where we used to harvest 100 kilogrammes," she says.

Farm price for beans in Zaza is Rwf370 a kilo, however, at the market in Rwamagana, Eastern Province's main city, it is Rwf600.

"The concerns we have are that bean prices will hike, because there has not been enough quantity this season," Kandero pointed out.

Jean de Dieu Bavugirije is a 54-year old resident in Kabuga Cell, Bushara Cell, Karama Sector in Nyagatare.

Bavugirije complains about the high food prices, in addition to poor production caused by the rainy season.

He highlights that a kilo of beans has increased from Rwf200 to Rwf400, rice rose to rwf900 up from Rwf600.

"A bottle of banana beer used to be Rwf250, now we buy it Rwf350, We used to buy a 25kg bag of maize flour for Rwf7,000, but now it is Rwf15,000," he said.

"I used to get three bags (300kg) of beans, but this season I got one bag (100kg), produce is where one expects money to buy soap, children's uniform, and so on, so it is not easy this time. If this was the season to pay health insurance, most of us would not make it," he said.

The bright side

Local government officials say that although beans went bad due to much humidity, crops like maize are expected to cover for the loss.

Ngoma District Vice Mayor for Economic Affairs, Cyriaque Nyiridandi Mapambano, said: "There are some things we have no control over, like climate, for instance. We experienced too much rain that affected bean plantations, but the bright side is that we are going to get lots of maize thanks to the rain."

"The bean production will not be good but we cannot state that we will not completely have any. We cannot, therefore, predict food shortage in the near future," he noted.

"We are in talks with farmers and are advising them on proper postharvest handling of maize, have built modern maize hangars, we will put in place stores for them, and we expect that the market will be good, such that if one incurred losses with beans, they will make a profit with maize, to be able to buy what they do not have," he explained.

The Ministry of Agriculture announced on Tuesday that rains experienced last year in the farming season A destroyed crops on 3,900 hectares, and killed about 250, livestock which included some 150 cows.

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