Nyirankundimana Olive is a model farmer living in Musave Village, Gakenke District, Rwanda. In 2016 Vi Agroforestry started working with COTUMU cooperatives where she was a member and it was here that she was trained, on agroforestry and farm management and farm enterprise development and selection. Nyirakundimana took interest in the fruit enterprise and in September 2017, she established a tree tomato farm plot planting at least 400 trees. When asked why tree tomatoes she say “I wanted to contribute to a healthy society and since am a farmer the best way was to farm tree tomatoes which are known for its health benefits”.
Her first harvest would come almost a year later in August 2018, where she harvested a bountiful harvest. In a week she harvested 60-70kilos of “Tamarillo” as she calls them which is a Rwandese name for tree tomatoes. A kilo of tree tomatoes fruits retails at 700 Rwf at Gakenke market which is an equivalent of 75cents US dollar.
However, as she sells, she also saves in a Village Savings and Loans Associations groups initiated by COTUMU cooperative and supported by Vi Agroforestry. Currently, Nyirankundimana is able to harvest more than 135Kgs of Tree tomatoes per week which gives her an income of about 98,000 Rwf (105usd) per week which translates to over 390,000 Rwf (418usd) a month.
Nyirankundimana soon realized she had more income and came up with a new idea to diversify and increase her business enterprise. So, she invested one million Rwandan francs (1072usd) to start chicken farming. She bought 400 chickens for rearing and provision of eggs for sale. Four months later, chickens started laying eggs and now Nyirankundimana is supplying 380 eggs every day at 70 Rwf per egg. This business gives her a monthly return of 270,000 Rwf (290usd) per month. “I am now making more than 600,000 Rwf (644usd) in a month from the sale of fruits and eggs” Watch out for me I will soon be a millionaire; she exclaims can you believe it? Am no longer just a smallholder farmer I now have the knowledge and skill for a business!
She says one of the things she learned is to work hard and think big! She says important is to identify what you love doing and strategically tap into the needs of the community. She says each enterprise works differently it is important to check compatibility to your resources and have a plan for example plan with the seasons of the year to survive the demand and supply curve as the prices will affect the quantity of the products in the market.
As we end she says her four children are what motivates her to work hard as she wants a better future for them. She says ” I am capable to pay school fees for all my children and provide them with other school materials and needs like clothes. I’m also able to provide food for my family and pay medical fees, through the benefit I got from my farming activities especially fruit enterprise that I have known after being trained by the cooperative”.