The APA2019 Field Trips: Potato and Sweetpotato Value Chains

Field Trip 1:  FIELD TRIP TO ORANGE-FLESHED SWEETPOTATO VALUE CHAIN IN SOUTHERN PROVINCE

The Southern province is well known for sweetpotato production in Rwanda. The field trip to the orange-fleshed sweetpotato value chain includes two sites to be visited which are Kamonyi roadside market and the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) research station

Kamonyi sweet potato roadside market

Serge Ganza is one of the most successful youth agripreneurs in Rwanda. He is the founder of Africa Food Supply (AFS) Ltd, that deals with seed production, capacity building and connecting farmers to the market in Kamonyi district. The Kamonyi roadside market has provided an opportunity for rural farmers to enhance their agriculture knowledge and to increase and sell their produce. In addition, there are also plans to accommodate other facilities like a butchery, cold room for vegetables and fruits, a meeting hall, offices, a restaurant and a processing unit.

Serge owns a total of 12-hectares which he acquired over the years as a result of selling Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) vines. Every season he dedicates 4 hectares of his plot of land for productivity of OFSP clean materials and selling of vines to organizations such as Caritas, World Vision and other small farmers in the region. The proceeds he gets from selling vines is used for other projects and paying off his workers.

With International Potato Center (CIP) intervention and in recognition of Serge’s great success in sweetpotatoes value chain, he managed to acquire funding from different organizations that helped him increase his productivity of cassava, banana seeds and pineapples. He also uses his land to rear cattle.

Rubona RAB station

Rubona station is the largest research stations of RAB located in Huye district. It is located approximately 100 km from Kigali, which is about 2 hours’ drive at a comfortable speed. As the main research station in Rwanda, Rubona works on most crops grown in the country including sweetpotato. Some of the activities on sweetpotato includes variety development, seed multiplication from in-vitro laboratory, screen houses as well as pre-basic and basic seeds production in open fields. International Potato center has a long history of collaboration with the research work from seed systems to post-harvest work. The field trip to Rubona station includes a tour to the tissue culture laboratory, screen houses, sweetpotato crossing block, among others.

On the way heading to Rubona, there are some amazing historical sites such as the ‘Rock of Kamegeri’ which has attracted people’s attention due to its hilarious story. According to various sources, offenders of the rules were to be burnt to death on this rock as suggested by the adviser to a king long ago. However, the adviser was the first to face his own punishment.

The district next to Rubona is Nyanza District.  It is considered as the cradle of Rwanda’s heritage hosting some of the country’s most prized cultural assets. The King’s Palace and the national museum are in this region.

Field Trip 2: ORANGE-FLESHED SWEETPOTATO VALUE CHAIN IN NORTHERN PROVINCE

The visit to the Orange Fleshed Sweetpotato (OFSP) value chain will be conducted in Rulindo district, Northern Province. The district has 17 sectors including Bushoki sector in which KOTEMU, a farmers group, is located. The total population of the district is 288,452 people on 567km2 with a population density of 509 people per km2. Sweetpotato is one the major crops in the area.

Visit to KOTEMU farmers group

KOTEMU is a farmers group located about 45 km and approximately 50 minutes’ drive from Kigali. The group was formed in 2008 by Urugaga Imbaraga primarily to train farmers on good agricultural practices and any other issues in relation to the group members. KOTEMU is one of the groups that have benefited from sweetpotato projects funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UK Aid and U.S. Agency for International Development.

The main activities of this group include multiplication of OFSP vines and roots production, livestock and fighting against poverty through savings at the group and individual level. The main buyers for vines are international Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), local NGOs, the local government and neighboring local farmers. The proceeds earned by the group are used for purchasing animals such goats and pigs. Some of the proceeds are shared amongst members as cash and the balance kept in a saving account in a bank.

The group also does the collective roots market for SINA. The quantity of OFSP roots sold is estimated at between 10-20 tons per season (4 months). However due to the lack of common land, the group must incur a huge cost towards renting land. The group is planning on purchasing its own land and livestock so that it can reduces its expenses on rent, increase organic manure and maximize OFSP production.

 International Potato center (CIP) in partnership with the Rulindo local government and IMBARAGA farmers’ organization has established the Gasiza sweetpotato roadside market to enable sweetpotato farmers in this area and other neighboring villages to have a selling point for their harvest.

The roadside market operates every Wednesday and Saturday.

Visit to SINA Gerard, Urwibutso Enterprise

Urwibutso Enterprise is located about 50 km from Kigali. It takes an average of 1 hour 5 minutes’ drive from Kigali. Sina Gerard of ‘’Urwibutso Enterprise’’ was a young social entrepreneur when he started his operations in 1983 with one employee. Today Sina Gerald runs a diversified business ranging from farm production, food processing, carpentry, ceramic, schools, petroleum and others. His business has provided employment to thousands of his local community members within the region. 

Sina Gerald also supports his local community by purchasing farm produce from at least 3,000 families in the Rulindo and the neighboring districts. In 2007, Urwibutso Enterprise was certified by the International Standards Organization (ISO) which was a great achievement for a business based in the rural part of the country that adds value to local agricultural products.

During the field trip, we will be visiting the bakery business section that started operations in 1985. Their focus is to produce and process organic root, tuber products, fruit, and vegetable. Sina Gerald has produced products under different brand names which have become popular household products in the country.

All his products are named in the local Kinyarwanda language. He has named his business after a round deep-fried doughnuts called Urwibutso, which translates to a memory; Agashya (juice), Akabanga (chili pepper), Akarusho (for all the alcoholic products), Akaryoshye (yogurt), Akanoze (cereal flour), Akandi (mineral water) and Akarabo “small flower” (Wheat and sweetpotato biscuits).

Field trip 3: POTATO VALUE CHAIN IN NORTHERN PROVINCE

Visit at RAB Musanze

Rwanda is the third largest potato producer in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. Potatoes grow well in all the district in Rwanda, especially in the Northern and Western provinces. Musanze RAB station in Ruhengeri is 95 Kilo meters from Kigali, which is about a 2-hour drive. Musanze station is one of the 13 research stations currently operating across all districts of Rwanda. The station mainly focuses on potato among other crops. Potato activities in this station include variety development and seed multiplication from in-vitro laboratory, screen houses (conventional and aeroponic) as well as pre-basic and basic seeds in open fields.

This station was established in 1978. CIP’s contribution to start a sustainable potato program in this place to date is one of the success stories of which the likes of Andre Devaux, CIP Regional Director of Latin America, can attest to.

Activities such as building facilities, the establishment of seed production sites like Kinigi station and production of disease-resistant varieties was done by a group of scientists and breeders from CIP when the Musanze RAB station was being established.

Musanze is also known as Rwanda’s most mountainous district, containing the largest part of Volcanoes National Parks. Five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga chain (KarisimbiBisokeSabyinyoGahinga and Muhabura) are within the district boundaries.

Most of Rwanda’s mountain gorillas are found in Musanze district making it the most popular tourist destination in the country. Musanze’s capital, Ruhengeri, is one of the largest cities in Rwanda and serves as a hub for tourists visiting the volcanoes or the gorilla sanctuary. It is a city that sits on the main road to Congo through Rubavu that serves most of the Eastern Congo.

Visit to Horizon SOPYRWA Potato Greenhouse

Horizon Sopyrwa is a Rwandan agri-tech company that makes and markets pyrethrum, essential oils, and produces greenhouse products. Horizon Sopyrwa is a subsidiary of Horizon Group which is in Kinigi, Musanze District, where the volcanic soils, high altitudes and good distribution of rainfall are favorable to growing pyrethrum. Currently, the company processes the pale extract of pyrethrum, which is the refined concentrate of the flower.

In 2016, in response to an ever-growing demand for essential oils, Horizon Sopyrwa began growing aromatic plants and started selling a range of high-quality essential oils products as well as potato seeds produced in a greenhouse environment. Horizon SOPYRWA has a Greenhouse Project aimed at contributing to the agro-economic development of Rwanda, increase the quality and sustainability of potato seeds, food safety and security.

Visit of Hollanda Fair Foods, a potato processing plant

Hollanda Fair Foods is the manufacturer of Winnaz potato chips and the first commercial potato chip manufacturer in Rwanda. In 2015 Hollanda Fair Foods opened a factory with an initial capacity of 2 tons per day but has now upgraded to producing 10tons of its products/day.

Hollanda Fair Foods intends to offer world class potato crisps to satisfy the appetite of East African snack eaters. The snack products are currently being sold to Rwanda, DRC and Uganda. By working directly with Rwanda’s potato farmers and cooperatives, the company is aiming to create a sustainable market for Rwandan farming communities and to increase economic opportunity. In addition, Hollanda Fair Foods wants to ensure that Rwandan potato farmers use environmentally friendly farming techniques. Currently its capacity was upgraded from 2 tons to 10 tons per day.

CIP and RAB under the ‘Potato Varietal Trials project’ is working with Hollanda Fair Foods among other potato processing companies in Rwanda in the evaluation of the new potato clones’ processing quality.

Field trip 4: FIELD TRIP TO EXPLORE PROGRESS IN MECHANIZED AGRICULTURE IN THE EASTERN PROVINCE.

Field trip to BRAMIN

The BRAMIN farm is a joint venture between Bralirwa and Minimex, the leading maize milling company in Rwanda. It represents one of the first modern large-scale maize farming enterprises in Rwanda. Bramin farm produces mainly maize, barley,  and in a rotation system, potato production has been introduced as a rotation crop with cereals such as beans, sorghum, soya beans, and vegetables like green pepper, watermelon, tomatoes, cabbages, African eggplants, cucumber, and butternuts. Most of their produce is for commercial and currently produce only maize seed. Bramin is in the dry area in Ndego sector on the southern border of Akagera National Park in Kayonza district. The farm currently manages 260 hectares under irrigation and employs 602 staff and about 385 casual workers.

Through this farm, Bralirwa, and Minimex are helping smallholder farmers to improve yields and compete against imported crops.

Sourcing their raw materials locally ensures that the two companies touch the lives of the local communities and also support the government’s effort to improve agriculture as a means of achieving national food security.