Rwanda: Govt Moves to Shield Poultry Farmers From Losses Amid COVID-19 Lockdown

Oil trucks (file photo).

Poultry farmers will be cushioned against losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic while children's nutrition will improve thanks to the Government's decision to buy eggs from the farmers and distributing them to children in communities.

On Tuesday, April 28, 2020, Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), and the National Early Childhood Development Programme (NECDP) issued joint instructions aimed at giving guidelines on providing eggs to children under early childhood development programme.

The instructions are based on the resolution of the Cabinet meeting held on April 24, 2020 which decided that government would buy the eggs from the poultry farmers who lacked egg market owing to COVID-19 pandemic.

Beneficiaries will be children under the home-based Early Childhood Development Centres - ECDs, which operate in villages across districts.

The instructions say that each child will be allocated three eggs per week.

The government will be buying a raw egg at Rwf60. The ordinary wholesale price for an egg has been between Rwf70 and Rwf80.

Dr. Anita Asiimwe, NECDP National Coordinator told The New Times that the exercise has two objectives: to ensure that farmers do not incur losses, and to improve child nutrition.

"We know that animal source protein is one of the children's nutritional needs. So, we took the initiative to distribute the eggs among them so that we provide them with a nutritious diet," she said.

Andrew Butare, the Chairperson of Rwanda Poultry Industry Association told The New Times that the government's move was timely, pointing out that though the price is relatively low compared to the investment that a poultry farmer makes for egg production, it will save them from losses.

He said that the lockdown paralysed business that were their source of market, mainly hotels, restaurants, individual buyers, and different institutions including schools.

Butare said that, currently, more than 1.6 million eggs from at least 16 districts have been collected and will be bought by government under the initiative.

Jean Baptiste Musabyimana, a poultry farmer in Bugesera District told The New Times that he has been selling just half of 60,000 eggs he produces from his 70,000-chicken farm per day because of the COVID-19 that has contracted the egg market.

In addition, he said the price has gone down from Rwf80 to Rwf60.

"Low prices and lack of buyers are posing a challenge to poultry entrepreneurs as they are obliged to continue spending money on feed to keep chickens alive and productive," he said pointing out that the cost of production is high.

Statistics from RAB indicate that Rwanda's chicken population increased by 9 percent per year rising from 3.5 million in 2010 to 7.6 million in 2018.

The total egg production from Rwanda's poultry is expected to increase from 244 million in 2017 to 513 million by 2022, as per the livestock sector masterplan developed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources in December 2017.

entirenganya@newtimesrwanda.com

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