A Rwandan Chili pepper farmer is silently harvesting money season after season as he gradually captures foreign markets.
Dieudonné Twahirwa the founder of Gashora Farm Ltd grows chili pepper on 150 hectares of land in Bugesera district and other parts of the country. He harvests 10 metric tones of dry chili every season.
An Indian company- Akay Flavours and Aromatics pvt ltd was the first to purchase chili from Gashora Farm and directly exports to the United Kingdom. Since 2016 Twahirwa has been supplying the Indian company.
Twahirwa broke the ice during an encounter with agro experts at International Trade Center (ITC) through its project Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa (SITA).
“This meeting facilitated me to reach international markets. They facilitated me to attend the international spice conference in India, I have met different international buyers, now I have buyers from Belgium, France, India, Netherlands of the dry African bird eye chili,” Twahirwa said.
So far his company has exported 24 Metric tonnes valued at $17,000 of fresh chili to the UK, 100 liters of chili oil- a new product brand to the USA and to Switzerland worth $6,070, and collected 6meteric tonnes of African Bird eye chili which is to be exported to Belgium this month with value of $30,000 USD.
The company has a direct market of African bird eye chili to Belgium, France, Netherlands and India and in the USA and Switzerland for the chili oil, and also exporting to the UK through Natural Fresh food- as the middlemen.
Gashora Farm has 10 permanents staff and 30 casual labourers. For off-farm there are 4 permanent staff and 3 casual labourers. There is a total of 15 permanent workers.
On the farm- there two agronomists, five farm keepers on three sites, three supervisors and an average number of 30 casual labours depending on activities.
And off-farm staff include two technicians who deal with processing, one cleaner and three casual laborers, one accountant and one managing director and processing hiring of two other staffs (marketing manager and director of finance).
Twahirwa graduated from University of Rwanda in 2009 – he tried organising music concerts but it didn’t workout. He did this until 2012 when he discovered that however much effort he put in the sector, the losses were inevitable as a result of competition.
“I could organize an event and then fail to get what I had invested,” he said, adding that later he opened a small shop selling music on flash discs; “it didn’t workout as well so I quit”.
After failing in the music sector, Twahirwa got an opening in 2015 when he met agriculture experts at a conference organized by AgriProFocus Rwanda.
Experts advised him on how to become successful. He resorted to chili pepper growing.
“Yes it is a profitable business.You can start very small and it has a demand, as we live in Rwanda where we have manpower and good climate which allows us to compete with other countries”.