On 4th October 2018, the Agricultural Counselor, Carian Emeka, with a delegation from the Netherlands: A.J.Arno Rohde from the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food quality and Frank Buizer from the Netherland Entreprise Agency (RVO) - visited SUNRIPE farm Ltd, a 7 hectare farm located in the Kayumba cell of Nyamata Sector in Bugesera District, part of the Eastern province of Rwanda.
Agricultural counselor with the delegation taking a tour around SUNRIPE Farm
The farm started 3 years ago as a result of the partnership between a Dutch firm (Holland Greentech) and American investors. Its mission is to provide high quality product to the local market and give the market specialty gourmet vegetables and herbs that are often not available locally.
Sunripe farm, equipped with a modern drip irrigation with a fertilizer pump system, serve as a demonstration plot for Holland Greentech, where Dutch inputs and Best Practices are showcased for educational training to the farmers in the surrounding communities. This serves as an opportunity to farmers to increase their own production, become equipped with the knowledge to grow organic food as mentioned by William Maccharia, the farm manager. The farm is also involved in cow and chicken rearing as side activities mainly to get manure for crop fertilization.
The farm grows a variety of crops including sugar snaps, egg plant, tomatoes, dry green beans, french green beans, green pepper, sweet pepper, oyster mushroom, habonero chili, Swiss chard, leeks, beetroot, broccoli, red cabbage, parsley, Chinese cabbage, and some of the products are exported to Europe.
For being able to meet the high standard quality products for their customers, shade nets and greenhouses are being used to grow some of the crops such as sweet peppers (red and yellow).
Sweet pepper growing
For crop rotation, they also cultivate pineapples, butter nuts, etc. The farm also produces 100 kg of mushroom per 3 months, and works with Women for Women International to provide training to female farmers.
To accommodate the various needs of their potential clients, the farm also grows coriander, cucumber, zucchini, green and purple basil, rosemary, thyme, dill and chives but in small quantities.
SUNRIPE products are partly supplied to the local supermarkets and hotels in Kigali and also exported to various European countries including The Netherlands and Britain. Their export capacity is now estimated at 4 tonnes of produce per harvest.
Youth and women involvement
With the aim of promoting self-reliance and financial security, 95% of workers at SUNRIPE farm are women. Currently, the farm has hired 15 permanent workers. They also hire young interns and contractors in an attempt to encourage youth to get involved in agriculture farming.
Women carrying out their duties around SUNRIPE Farm
Training and capacity building
Delphy constantly provide and execute training programs for the staff and management at Sunripe farm. The technical training and provision of professional equipment are being offered by Holland Greentech Rwanda, which is a well-recognized Dutch horticulture firm in the region.
Asked about the challenges that the farm has faced so far, William Maccharia mentioned that a lack of infrastructures mainly roads has really been a tremendous factor that hindered them from a safe transportation of their produce from the farm to their customers.
Also, a modern cold room facility will also help them to store and keep fresh their crops for a long time. The facility will replace the charcoal cooler that they are currently using as a traditional cooling room.
The farm manager also mentioned that the farm still needs to widen the market of its produce for earning more profit and extending its premises.
He mentioned that they sometimes struggle to get the import permits from Rwanda Agriculture and Livestock Inspection and Certification Services (RALIS) for some varieties originating from the Netherlands. This results in failing to meet some of their customer demands.