By Elias Hakizimana.
Rwandans have made a tremendous journey in building self-reliance by creating home-grown solutions. Here is a short example of residents of Gatsibo district who ventured in small businesses such as rice farming and ginger wine processing.
Both businesses were established by residents themselves and have employed others who testified their welfare has improved.
Gratien Hakizimana, 49, is a citizen from Rugarama sector in Gatsibo District who came in Gatsibo from Rulindo-Northern Province of Rwanda in 2014 to seek survival due to poverty issues.
The father of four had no job and all his children were in secondary schools. With a small pay from construction works as carpenter, his salary could not cover family’s daily survival and school fees.
Hakizimana thanks a-ginger wine factory dubbed ‘Life Holistic Limited’ to give him a decent job as a cook, the position that helped him to sort our basic financial issues now.
“I managed to pay school fees for all my children then and I can pay farmers working in my crop plantations at home. From my salary here at life holistic, I joined a maize farmers’ cooperative where myself harvest 1.2 tonnes per a season. I bought other two farms of 1 hectare, my wife takes farming responsibility with employees and I keep working for the factory. I also bought a house worth Rwf 1.4 million. I plan to build a modern one very soon,” he said.
The factory he works for produces ginger wine dubbed ‘Uruvange’ or mixture that is made of water, sugar, ginger, Thym, Nettle, rosemary and Potassium. Since its establishment in 2016, it gave jobs to 34 people including 16 women working on contracts.
The factory produces around 6000 bottles of 500ml everyday according to Didace Maniraguha, the deputy Managing Director of life holistic limited.
He said that their product reaches to at least all residents of the eastern province at 80 percent and they will spread it country wide. “We have begun the journey for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) so that we can join the international market in coming years,” Maniraguha noted.
Their business employs neighbours and being an asset of the area, it also contributes in raising the national economy by taxe paying. It was set up on the budget of Rwf 130 million.
A two-stars hotel from rice farming
The second example of building resilience from own solutions is seen among the members of COPRORIZ Ntende rice farmers’ cooperative who built a two-stars hotel from their rice produce and constructed other infrastructures all making a total of Rwf 950 million.
The cooperative was incepted in 2003 working as an association that had the name ‘Kanyarwanda’ and started working as a cooperative in 2005, growing rice on 50 ha that increased to 600 ha after they got a partner who helped them to prepare the marshland. Their crop production capacity is currently 5t/ha, which they plan to increase to 7t/ha. They are grouped in 15 zones that also works in 165 teams.
COPRORIZ started with 560 members, the number that also increased to 3761 members including 1311 women and 2450 men. It has 84 permanent and 70 casual workers.
The membership contribution was Rwf 3750 at the beginning, which rose to Rwf 116,000 now and is expected to rise to Rwf300,000 by October 2019 according to Jean Bosco Singirankabo, the vice president of the cooperative.
The cooperative started with only one small office and now owns a two-stars hotel, rice produce stores and they plan to start a poultry project to support members fight malnutrition and expand family income.
“We have poultry house that will host 15,000 hens. The hens will be given to members from June 2019. We have a firm named ‘uzima’ that will supply us one-day old chickens of France variety ‘sasu’ and we will give to our members at 45 days as loan to pay at the first production of eggs.” Singirankabo said.
The cooperative has seven cars to help in rice transportation and offers different services to its members such as health insurance, loans, free Rwf 30,000 given to over 70-year-old members every year, a farmer market that helps them shop and pay after the season, paying school fees for their children and pay back later, and giving 10 percent to a member to take home for eating according to his/her produce.
Testimonies of members
“Before I has nothing as I was not organized, but I gained knowledge, I crop 2,6 tonnes of rice, on 40A, I bought 2 land plots for farming, I built a house and bought a television set, my children are getting school fees in secondary school, life is better,” said Thomas Mwumvaneza, a member and employee of the cooperative.
The contribution of residents in creating investment opportunities has increased the district’s taxes to Rwf 1,045,420,682 during the fiscal year 2018/2019. The districts targeted to collect Rwf 1,014,988,253 that means that they made a supplement of Rwf 30,432,429 (103%) over their target as explained by Theogene Manzi, the vice mayor in charge of finance and economic development.
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