RWANDA – Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board has promised to blacklist milk traders found guilty of swindling dairy farmers out of their hard-earned money.

According to Solange Uwituze, deputy general of  Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB), a  list is being prepared and will soon be published for blacklisting.

“We are still waiting for submissions of the lists from some districts,” she said in a statement to The New Times.

RAB plans to liaise with Rwanda Cooperative Agency to blacklist the defaulters through their respective banks.

In Kayonza district alone, 15 cases of defaulting have been reported which have amounted to a total of RWF50 million (US$47,501), according to the President of Kayonza Dairy Farmers Union, Stephen Sebudandi in a statement to The New Times.

This fraud leads to informal milk trading which has in turn caused a difference of more than 55,000 litres daily, yet the six highest-producing sectors in Kayonza produce more than 75,000 litres per day.

“It has become like a culture. After defaulting, the milk traders relocate to other districts such as Nyagatare, Burera, and Gicumbi. After arriving there, they pay cattle keepers for the first two or three months and then start defaulting before disappearing. It seems like an organized way of swindling dairy farmers,” Stephen Subedandi said.

Some dairy farmers’ cooperatives are no longer in business because a majority of these fraud cases are happening in areas where most farmers have no market from big investors such as Inyange Industries.

“Some dairy farmers’ cooperatives were discouraged. For instance, out of five cooperatives near Akagera park, only two are operating,” said Stephen Subedandi.

In addition to the government’s strategy to black list the defaulters, Subedandi suggests that other solutions should be considered.

“There should be ready lawyers who can defend dairy farmers’ cooperatives whenever they face such problems. In this case, the defaulters’ assets can be confiscated earlier before they escape.

This is because when it delays, they conceal their assets by registering them to other people’s names and creating new companies under which they continue doing their businesses,” he explained.

He also added that the leaders appointed to manage dairy cooperatives should be well-versed in matters of finance as well as law.

“The cooperatives’ leaders also need motivation in terms of monthly salary that can come from the cooperative’s treasury,” he said.

“Since 2018, we have been pursuing some milk traders who defaulted on milk in different districts such as Nyabihu, Kayonza and Gicumbi when I was leading the dairy farmers’ federation at the national level.

Currently, In Nyagatare district, most of the farmers are not facing the issue after securing a market from Inyange industries,” reiterated Gahiga Gashumba, the outgoing President of Nyagatare Dairy Farmers’ union.

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