When I met John Turasabimana, near my work place holding twigs of trees, I couldn’t help but notice how unusually good looking they were. He was holding a box of a dozen and as I later learnt he was delivering an order to a client who wanted to beautify their garden.
Turasabimana, a father of two is one among a multitude of nursery tree vendors who have played a pivotal role in the beautification of Kigali City today.
“These are garden trees. It is a good deal; a client placed an order for Rwf50, 000 worth of the trees and here is the best choice from my nursery,” Turasibamana told me with a look of satisfaction on his face.
A conversation with this grower, shows that he started the undertaking just to earn daily bread, but he has now turned it into a real business.
“I reached a point where I could not afford to put food on the table when I met a friend who advised me to start a tree nursery business to serve the increasing demand of garden trees,” Turasabimana told KT Press.
“I first borrowed little money to buy plants and resell. I later on started my own plant nursery targeting gardeners,” he said.
A tour around most wetlands in the city of Kigali, shows an increase in plant nurseries.
Gardeners who talked to KT Press say there is more than 10,000 species of garden trees and flowers meant in Rwanda.
It is a big business; individual households, institutions and public places are apparently competing to have beautiful green environment, especially during rainy season.
Flower pots are characteristic of public buildings verandas in Kigali, while any public place which is not a vehicle parking space is most likely a green place.
Lanes in Kigali highways are separated from each other by the most expensive royal palm trees.
The gardeners say home gardens are diverse; each home in Kigali prepares a garden according to their financial capabilities; a beautiful garden can cost as much as Rwf4 million or even more, but Rwf500, 000 can also manage a budget garden.
Turasabimana started selling his twigs at as low as Rwf200 and Rwf2000, but he can now raise as much as Rwf4, 000 and Rwf8000 for famous palm trees from his Kaguguplant nursery in Gasabo district.
Interestingly, some clients place orders for trees as high as 10 meters and Turasabimana is able to uproot and plant a tree at any garden. All one needs is to bring a truck to transport the tree, and to follow instructions to irrigate the plant.
Such a grown tree can cost up to Rwf200, 000.
Currently, Turasabimana is earning Rwf120, 000 per month from maintaining tending to clients gardens alone. He does two visits weekly.
“This is on top of home delivery of nursery trees which also earns me enough,” he said declining to disclose his total earning.
A lifetime business
While Turasabimana has just one year experience, there are numerous gardeners in Kigali who have been in the trade for a long time.
Mention a beautiful garden in Kigali city, Laurent Mirasano comes to mind as one of the hands behind many of them.
He started in 1980s when he was a school boy in Ruhango district.
“I saw beautiful flowers at the Ruhango catholic parish. I used to pick one flower shoot every day, until I made a small garden with 350 species at home. That was my starting point.”
Mirasano maintained the garden until one day a businessman who visited the family gave him Rwf65,000 as a reward and hired him to prepare a garden for him.
“It was encouraging; really good money at that time. I had to master the trade because I realized my future lies in gardening,” he told KT Press.
“I embarked on making it a big venture. I went to learn from local agronomists on how to tend nurseries and learnt that plant nursery also need what another plants need – fertilizers and spraying if I wanted good harvest.”
Several institutions including government institutions started discovering how talented Mirasano was and hired him.
His first real contract was with Rwanda Institute of Administration and Management (RIAM) up until 1999.
Later on, he got business connections in Kigali where he contributed plants to famous gardens in Kigali, including; Rwanda Parliament where he won a tender for Rwf12 million, and Convention Centre. Mirasano’s contracts earn him up to Rwf300, 000 every week.
He has reached the level of a consultant in plant nursery whereby he designs gardening plans.
According to Mirasano, a plant nursery can cost at least Rwf1 million.
As for gardens, he said one can plan it, according to his budget. A home garden can include plants, fountains, hills and rocks.
“You can also hang orchids in trees, fix flowers on boards in the backyards. Taste and budget will determine what you can have,” said Mirasano.