By Elias Hakizimana.
Rwanda’s banana wine processors have been called on embracing safety standards requirements to be able to sell safe locally-made-banana wine or ‘Urwagwa’ to the international markets.
The call was made on July 5, 2018 by the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) in Kigali during an open-calls session for all the entrepreneurs in banana-based beverages value chain.
They mentioned some challenges that are still hindering them to respect these standards and among them include lack of efficient packaging materials as the government has so far banned plastic bottles for alcoholic beverages.
Anastasie Kankwanzi from CTBA (cooperative de transformation de banana et d’ananas)/banana and pineapple transformation cooperative) in Gahara sector, Kirehe District in Eastern province is one of entrepreuneurs in this sector whose factory recently closed in August 2017 due to lack of standards certifications.
She said after having finished construction and passing through standards testes, the remaining big challenge is to find packaging kits (glass bottles).
Impacts on the market
Kankwanzi says she cannot sell her products to the wide market because she still has a challenge of packaging.
“I currently sell my products locally and especially in my location, when I find opportunity to get enough bottles, I can reach in towns and even beyond the country because I will shortly get the Standardization Mark (S-Mark). RSB took all the samples and I am waiting for the feedback to restart the business,” she said.
She mentioned that she could produce 1,000 cases (24,000 bottles) per a month and that she can even make 3,000 cases per month when she has enough bottles.
She said that her wish is to get affordable bottles as she is currently buying one empty glass bottle at Rwf230 at Masoro in Gasabo district. “I can be lucky and become millionaire if we have a machine that makes glass bottles in Rwanda,” said Kankwanzi.
Kampeta Sayinzoga, Director General of NIRDA said that they need to focus on banana based beverage processors such as banana juice, wine “Urwagwa” and liquor to help entrepreneurs under this value chain to find efficient modern equipment to produce quality and safe products.
“We are looking on how to equip entrepreneurs under the banana based beverage value chain to produce quality products also with good prices to be able to satisfy Rwanda’s market, from today, we are going to partner with these entrepreneurs to help them get standardization certifications by RSB. You know that standards are a key for Made-In-Rwanda products’ quality,” said Sayinzoga.
“What we help them is skills improvement on standards and know the requirements for the standards and will help them find experts to explain them about the standards requirements,” she added.
Banana value chain has over 80 entrepreneurs certified for standards registered in Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and in Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA). NIRDA visited and heard from challenges facing 25 factories among these ones.
NIRDA organized the open calls on July 5, 2018 in Kigali that gathered together all the entrepreneurs under banana based beverage value chain to hear from their challenges and call them for a competition of best businesses.
Sayinzoga said that NIRDA is ready to partner with those who have commitment to look for standards and with performing business. “We believe with good partnership with these entrepreneurs our locally made banana based beverages will be sold everywhere internationally,”
She said that after RSB banned plastic bottles for alcoholic drinks, NIRDA will help the private sector in this value chain to comply with RSB standards in a way that helps them also having better products with quality while respecting the standards.
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