Burundian traders decry ban on food export to Rwanda

Burundi traders and farmers have decried the recent government’s move to ban export of foodstuff to neighbouring Rwanda.

In Cibitoke Province, in the northern border with Rwanda, vegetable growers have complained that their produce is wasting away for lack of market.

“I grow and sell tomatoes, onions and other
vegetables. My tomatoes are getting rotten in the fields because we are not allowed to sell any food items to Rwanda,” said Generose Nisabwe adding that: “The government [of Burundi] should suspend this measure because most of the people
living near the border with Rwanda sell their food products in Rwanda.”

Food prices have fallen drastically as a result, leaving farmers worried about how they will meet their bills.

“A bag of eggplants that was selling at 12,000 Burundi francs ($7.2) is now only at Bif2,000 ($1.2). As the new school year starts next month, we will not be able to send our children to school because we will not be able to buy school uniforms, materials and pay fees,” said Raphael
Berahino, a farmer.

On Thursday last week, the Burundian
government also restricted passenger buses from crossing into Rwanda, saying they (buses) were repeatedly violating the ban by transporting food items to Rwanda.

Burundian Police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said the restriction was “just an implementation” of a measure taken by the government, a fortnight ago, to protect the national food production.

Relations between Burundi and Rwanda have deteriorated after the former accused the latter of hosting and supporting perpetrators of the failed May 13, 2015 coup plot against Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, claims Kigali rebuffs.

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