In a bid to finish cartels in the potato sector who had made farming of the crop unprofitable, the Rwandese government has come up with radical measures – and they are working.
Under the new regulations, traders can only buy potatoes from collection centres managed by cooperatives of potato farmers; only collection centres should buy potatoes from farmers at a farm gate price of between Rwf135 (Sh16) and Rwf175 (Sh21) per kilogramme depending on the type; no consumer should pay more than Rwf250 (Sh30) at retail price; and traders should also have forms indicating the origin of the irish and signed by respective collection centres.
The Rwanda National Police (RNP) has been ordered to arrest anyone inflating Irish potato prices and violating standard regulations meant to equally benefit all players in the business supply chain.
“The government remains committed to ensure that no one is cheated.”
Those arrested in different parts of the country include traders, transporters and employees at potato collection centres, who were said to be conniving to cheat farmers and consumers.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry set standard guidelines to regulate the Irish potato business after it emerged that farmers were incurring gross losses at the hands of unscrupulous traders, who would also fraudulently make abnormal profits through hiked retail prices and cheating final consumers.
Some of those arrested, according to media in Rwanda, were traders caught buying from farmers at as low as Rwf60 (Sh7) per kilogramme and employees at collection centres who would help them to fill the forms to make it look like they bought the irish from collection centres.
Police report that they have intercepted at least 78 trucks in the past one month, transporting potatoes bought contrary to the set standards.
The regulations also provide a penalty of between Rwf20,000 (Sh2400) and Rwf2 million (Sh240,000) for each vehicle intercepted transporting irish potatoes contrary to the standards.
“The regulations bring a win-win situation right from the farmer to the final consumer, ensuring no losses, and prevent fraud and speculations,” said the Minister for Trade and industry, Vincent Munyeshyaka, after parading arrested suspects.
He said that the Paul Kagame “government remains committed to ensure that no one is cheated.”