Charles Sekazuba, a resident of Kinigi in the Northwest of Rwanda, cultivated Irish potatoes but brokers (middlemen) and transporters gave him wrong market information on market prices and benefitted more from his hard earned produce. Yields from his farm were sold without grading, in the most cases as a mixture of good, medium and bad quality which affecting the prices and his revenues negatively.
Sekazuba in his Irish Potato Garden
This trend continued until he attended commercialization Campaigns by Farm Concern International, FCI under the Rwanda Domestic Markets Programme funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He says, “prior to the intervention by Farm Concern International, Irish potatoes farming in Musanze was commercial but not aligned to market needs. I could not deliver my farm products to the markets and deal with traders. I remember in some agricultural seasons, I could harvest from 1 tonne to 5 tonnes and still not able to sell it because of lack of market information. Back then, I lost potatoes which got rotten due to lack of market information in two consecutive seasons. A trader would come from Kigali and negotiate prices at the farm gate, at which I could give the produce on credit. Later in the day, the trader would inform me that the market price had slumped and therefore he got into loss. I would lose a lot of money. Things changed, however, from the time I started working with FCI; through Village Business Forums and market exposure, I am now familiar with the market dynamics. I get my products worth by being in touch with traders; I access market information on the prices and know what and when they need. I decide which market to supply depending on the quality and amount of my yields. I am grateful and appreciate FCI’s market linkage”.
Charles has been singing the song of Seburo, a trader who was linked to him through Village Business Forums organized by FCI. “I harvest my product knowing that Seburo is ready to come and collect it and pay in cash; no more debts. I can monitor my crops; decide the best period to harvest, get market information and double check the market prices in collaboration with traders from Kigali.”
Sekazuba says that, “transportation of commodities is now very easy: I do not worry about transportation; I no longer harvest and search transport on my own; Seburo the trader comes with his own transport and pays the agreed price after communicating with other traders in Kigali. Ever since I started working with FCI, my revenue has increased which allowed me to buy 30 are of land. This has raised my savings from USD 500 to between USD 4,500 to USD 5,400 per season. I am able to cater for my family, carry out my responsibilities and pay for the school fees and medical insurance for my family” he says barely concealing his pride.
He concludes thus, “I am planning to purchase more land for increased production of Irish potatoes but I will need continued support from FCI particularly more training on business planning and management. Thank you FCI”.
FCI VISION : To have commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond