RWANDA – The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) has fined 113 middlemen who were found to have purchased maize harvests without the necessary licenses.

Cassien Karangwa, the Director of Domestic Trade at MINICOM has declared that any buyer of maize harvest must have received a license from the sector level and a certificate registered with RDB under the established protocol.

The crackdown on middlemen comes after farmers across the country reported that, although they received an abundance of maize harvest during the concluded Agricultural Season A 2024, they were struggling with finding buyers.

Karangwa said that as of March 14, 2024, the middlemen had paid Rwf43.2 million (US$33,475) in fines.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, maize production volume was estimated at 446,460 metric tonnes, compared to 390,879 metric tonnes in the same season in 2023.

Karangwa clarified that there would be harsh penalties for anyone who purchases maize without permission or violates these rules, those taking advantage of the bumper harvest. 

He explained that the fines vary depending on how many tonnes they have illegally purchased.

The fine for purchasing maize without a district permit is Rwf 500,000 (US$400). Middlemen who purchase small quantities of maize below the recommended price, but less than one kilogramme, are subject to a fine of Rwf 150,000 (US$117).

Penalty for purchasing at a lower price than listed: A truck carrying three tonnes will be fined Rwf 300,000 (US$233); a truck carrying five tonnes will be fined Rwf 500,000 (US$400); a truck carrying 10 tonnes will be fined Rwf one million (US$777); and a truck carrying over 10 tonnes will be fined Rwf two million (US$1500).

Farmers, however, claim that because authorised buyers are not purchasing from them, middlemen have taken advantage of buying their maize at a lower price.

Jean Nepo Nsabimana, the head of the “Twiteze Imbere Musha” cooperative of farmers in Musha Sector, Rwamagana District, clarified that rather than letting their maize go into losses, they would rather sell it to middlemen and receive a meagre profit than nothing at all.

“The price that the middlemen give us to take our maize harvest is lower than the price that MINICOM determined, but sometimes the harvest is too much and all you want to do as a farmer is sell the harvest to the middlemen,” he stated.

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