Rwanda’s ambitions to leap the economy to middle income has shown impressive outlook with production of different sectors of the economy increasing.
Remarkable is the agricultural transformation that has seen a shift from agrarian to commercial agriculture thus improving the livelihoods of people. Virginie Murebwayire, is one of the people who have benefited from commercial agriculture.
Murebwayire, 56, a Primary school teacher opted to venture into passion fruit farming and has transformed her life and those of her family.
“I started because I wanted to develop myself so as find money and stop begging my husband, now am well developed and my children dress well even though they didn’t get job after finishing the universities.” She said.
Since 2015, Murebwayire from Gishari sector says that she has been able to buy plots of land, built a house and bought irrigating machine, all from the one hectare of land that she cultivates.
She is among the few farmers doing passion fruits as business, she says that she started it with passion and she doesn’t rest of taking care of them, she even employs other people.
Passion fruit farming is not popular as few do it as business, but it is very profitable as it has already improved the livelihoods of the farmers. Viriginie Murebwayire from Gishari Sector, Rwamagana District is one Murebwayire of well-developed woman from passion fruit farming.
“Passion fruits require extra care, because when you last up to two days without visiting them, they will all get damaged and you will be done. Passion fruits must be protected not cured. I have six workers that I pay; they work in taking care of the field, putting grass in passion fruit and irrigation.”
“My land which is one hector has two parts, I use one parts and grow passion fruits and when they are old like when they last two years, I grow in another parts and renew passion fruit from the first part.” She added explaining how she does her passion fruit farming in her land of one hector.
When a farmer takes care of passion fruits well, they grow well and start harvesting only after six months. “When passion fruits last six, I start harvesting like 100kg per week and they last up to eight or nine months, I get between 400kg or 500kg per week and one kilo costs 1000Rwf.” Said Murebwayire.
In doing her farming, Murebwayire was supported by Project for Rural Income through Export (PRICE) through The National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB). This is the projected funded by International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD) started in Rwanda in 2012, with the aim of empowering tea, coffee, fruits and vegetables farming, where a farmer requests a loan and get support of 50 percent of that loan.
After getting the information about that project, Murebwayire approached Gishari Sector office and they helped her. “We had trainings and we were asked to plan business projects well, we did it and NAEB gave me 18 million including nine million of loan that will be paid.” She said.
As she says she used nine million of loan in taking care of passion fruits field and those nine million of aid from PRICE, used in renting the land of two hectors so as expand her farming activities.
Neighbors of Murebwayire also profit from her by advice that she gives those who are interested in doing fruit farming business, as three of them already started that business from her support, she gives them seeds for free or sometimes on a good price.
Murebwayire wishes she finds hybrid seeds to use instead of those of hers she is using so as be more profitable because as she received 18 of support she wants to have capital of 54 million.