table rice from the rusizi plain
developing a new market for local table rice
location: rusizi plain
project since: 2019
The Rusizi Plain lies next to the border between the DRC and Burundi. Home to 1.3 million people, it’s a region that has long been plagued by conflict between the Bafulior and Burundi communities. The Plain was a major area of unrest during the Congolese wars and to this day is home to many militia groups.
Rice is the primary source of income for 8,000 households on the Plain. Many farmers sell their rice to the six largest co-operatives on the Plain, who in turn use it to meet delivery contracts for “brewery rice” with the Bralima Brewery in Bukavu. Yet, there is a huge potential market for locally grown table rice across South Kivu. In Bukavu alone, people consume up to 38.6kg of rice per year, but 82% of this is met by imports from Pakistan and Tanzania. The largest cooperative on the Plain, ADPA sells just 20 tonnes of high grade “table rice” at local markets. However, 70% of rice produced by ADPA is superior in quality to imported table rice.
Developing a table rice product could increase household income for local farmers by 10% on brewery rice. Ensemble is therefore working with the six largest cooperatives on the Rusizi Plain to develop a go-to-market strategy for diversifying their product offering to include table rice. Expanding into table rice, whilst continuing to fulfill contracts with the Bralima Brewery in Bukavu could have a major impact on the lives of local farmers.
This is a timely initiative; structured to run in advance of the launch of a major World Bank programme in late 2019 that is designed to increase the productivity and production of table and brewery rice on the Rusizi Plain.
Through addressing the buyer/consumer end of the rice value chain, Ensemble’s consultancy will directly compliment and help maximise the potential impact of this World Bank initiative, which in contrast will focus on product quality and yield.
Ensemble has recently undertaken consumer research in Bukavu and Goma and is consulting with cooperatives on the Plain and identifying potential distribution channels and customers to develop a series of recommendations for different sales models. Once finalised, we will lead a consultation process with cooperatives on the Plain and their agronomy partners to identify concrete next steps for implementation.