Category: Agri-business

Easy Ways To Run A Successful Agribusiness With Farmers: Beeutiful Creations

Agribusiness is any business that not only deals with farming land and producing animals, but also offers services to farmers that can enhance the value of their produce.

Working with local farmers is a great way to add value to your community by:

  • Reducing the footprint that products travel
  • Working hand in hand with them to ensure they produce quality, affordable produce
  • Ensuring that money made stays in the community longer
  • Offering farmers assurance of consistent market for their produce

For further reading, check out 7 proven ways on how to start a successful business for guidelines on how to identify a business you want to do, all the way to how to register it and hit the market.

Beeutiful Creations

Beeutiful Creations is a Christian social enterprise started in 2016 with Sean Lawsonand Nathalie Imanishimwe at the helm, based in Muhanga which is approximately an hour’s drive from Kigali. They source 90% of their raw materials from beekeepers in Rwanda and each of their products includes Rwandan beeswax or honey. This means that they are able to fully utilize what a beekeeper produces, hence maximizing the profits and reducing waste. They have been slowly transitioning the business to be 100% Rwandan-owned.

The sales representative is Claudine Tuyisenge, and she’s in charge of all retail and wholesale orders that come into business.

Sean Lawson (Co-Founder) & Nathalie (General Manager) at the KFAAM Market

How do you start your agribusiness with a local farmer?

Start with a culture of ‘fair trade

According to fairtrade.org, this is where you connect disadvantaged farmers and workers with consumers, promoting fairer trading conditions and empowering farmers and workers to combat poverty, thereby strengthening their position and taking more control of their lives.

Beeutiful Creations works with bee-keepers across Rwanda when making their handmade beeswax candles, cosmetics, furniture polish, children’s candle kits/modeling clay, and of course, raw honey. They ensure they pay the farmers a fair price for their produce to be able to support their families, provide health insurance and engage in further village-based micro-enterprising schemes.

Beeswax Heart
Work with integrity

Many farmers have had a bad experience with entrepreneurs who were less than honest with them and taken advantage of either their rural back ground or lack of access to certain infrastructures.

When working with a farmer, ensure you are forthright with them to develop a firm base on which to build your partnership. Avoid promises you can’t keep.

For example, I know of farmers who have been asked to grow a certain amount of produce for the entrepreneur to buy from them each month, only for them to flake out last minute leaving the farmer with huge losses.

Beeutiful Creations works on contract-based agreements with beekeepers on quantities that they know they can handle. They have built that trust and are always assured of the quantities they need to produce their line of products each month. This trust goes beyond just buying and selling as the bee keepers can also trust the company when they suggest to them the ways in which they can be more sustainable in their farming or any new ideas to enhance their produce.


Show them the benefits of working with you

It’s one thing to approach a farmer and ask them to partner with them, but how do you convince them that it’s in their best interest to work with you and not another person?

Line up all the advantages you will be offering a farmer, that includes and not limited to:

  • Saving their time looking for market
  • Offering good value for their produce
  • Helping farmers get access to training and sustainable farming methods to improve their yields
  • Showing them the end-product of their produce
  • Giving them access to the end-product that they can use to show other farmers or use themselves

Beeutiful Creations believes in holistic development and invests time and energy in ensuring their partners can increase their skills and knowledge through training in beekeeping, candle-making and product development.

Michael cutting out foundation
Find a consistent market 

It’s pointless to have a farmer on board with you if you don’t have a consistent market to sell the end products. If you aren’t able to get buyers for your products, how will you be able to continue a sustainable relationship with the farmer? They will quickly loose their trust in you and opt to look for other ways to sell their produce.

Beeutiful Creations products can be found in Azizi Life Studios in Kacyiru, and can also be found every month at the Kigali Farmers’ And Artisans’ Market.

Beeswax gorillas made with locally-crafted molds

According to Sean, “the market has helped.. get a stable customer base, build relationships with attendees and helped [them] grow initially, without the commitment of hiring a permanent location”. They can also be found in other retail stores across Rwanda, and even in Akagera National Park.

Another way that Beeutiful Creations has ensured consistent market for their products is by partnering with businesses that would directly use their products. A good example is the informal partnership between them and Toddle Care.

Toddle Care is a woman run-business in Rwanda that produces quality educational toys – they can also be found in the market every month. They use Beeutiful Creations’ bees-wax polish to polish their toys and they both cross-advertise this fact, further enhancing the #MadeinRwanda initiative and increasing brand-visibility of their products.

Beeswax polish
Promote the farmer as you promote your business

As you advertise and market your products, don’t forget to give credit to the farmer who has helped you achieve this.

Not only does this give the farmer morale but, they will also have pride in what they are doing. They will want to continue to be wholly-committed in consistently producing the best.

Showing the farmer at work or what goes into producing the raw materials also helps the consumer understand what’s in the end product, the pricing structure and build their confidence in it. This kind of transparency helps sustain brand loyalty as well.

Beeutiful Creations consistently post on social media how their beekeepers work. A recent post showed how they get honey from the hives using the cold-press method and how they ensure there are no additives in their products. In a city where there’s concern that water is sometimes added to honey, this gives consumers in Kigali a relief to know that their products are untainted.

Crushing honey is the best way to ensure it remains raw

The inside of a locally constructed hive
Martin Byenda, a beekeeper
Be Original

According to Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), Rwanda is only 26,000 square km with 70% of it exploited for agriculture, with legumes, cereals, tubers, bananas, vegetables and coffee being the main crops cultivated. What this shows you as an entrepreneur, is that chances are very high that they will be many farmers per-square km doing the same thing, which of course increases competition. It’s very easy to find yourself producing the same thing like many other businesses. This ‘copy-cat’ mentality is rife in Rwanda with many people fearing venturing into the unknown.

Beeutiful creations has taken something as simple as beeswax and used it in the production of several products that few – if any – are doing in Rwanda.

By taking a traditional craft or product and adding your own twist you could take something dull and turn it to something consumers are clamoring for. Some of the unique items that they do are bees-wax lip-balms and bees-wax polish that are child-friendly, so can be used on toys, furniture and kitchen items like chopping boards.

As you know, I definitely had to ask what advice could be given to budding entrepreneurs thinking of going down this road.

It was surprising to learn that Beeutiful Creations was started with Rwf 50,000 (approximately $60). Yes! You read that right… USD 60!

They bought 15kgs of honey directly from a farmer then rendered the wax to make candles. That gave them approximately 18 jars of honey and 5 candles and their business started. Now 2.5 years later, they are able to run a viable social enterprise with 4 full-time staff members. How inspiring is this to you who had been thinking you need thousands of dollars to start a business?

Soap sold around Rwanda including in the Ruzizi and Karenge Eco Lodges in Akagera Park

You can tell the Beeutiful Creation staff is committed and hardworking. They have admitted to making several mistakes in their journey (as many start-ups would) but, they have learnt from them and this is what makes them grow from strength to strength. They also make a great team because what they have achieved together with the farmers is beyond inspirational and can be easily replicated.

Can you imagine the Africa we would have if there were thousands more agri-businesses like Beeutiful Creations willing to take full control of our lands and use our rich resources to empower one another? Can you imagine agribusinesses ran/led by women who are innovative, smart and willing to work with men on an equal footing?

Imagine never having to import products from other continents because we are able to fully maximize what we have…

Pause to imagine that Africa then take a bold step towards turning it into a reality, even if it’s to #buylocalsupportlocal.

The inside of a beekeeper’s hive
Tamu Lip Balm
Ubizima Bwiza I Munazi a candle-dipping group and partner managed an order of 1,200  hand dipped candles to a fair-trade company in America

Learn more about Beeutiful Creations here: beeutifulcreation.org.

Or give them a call on +250 782 713 748 to organise a visit.

If you are interested in joining our community market, send an email to info@kigalifarmersandartisansmarket.com with a short bio of your business and pictures of your products.

[All photo credits: Beeutiful Creations]

All views and opinions expressed are the author’s

How to use these 13 ways to grow farm yields & profits

In the previous blog post, I wrote how getting into the value-add side of agri-business in Rwanda was not only a major step towards community growth and development but, also a great place for potential investors to consider putting their energies in to. However, there were a number of challenges that I pointed out that could hinder this progress. To recap:

  1. Low quality produce as most production is intended for own family consumption hence local farmers do not have strong incentives to increase quality.
  2. Lack of business skills and entrepreneurship.
  3. The rural road infrastructure and transport is not yet fully developed to enable the farmer to promptly get farm input and also transport the farm produce to the market.
  4. There is lack of sustainable market and post-harvest management for the small scale farmers in Rwanda.
  5. Limited capital to develop the farms and local farmers also do not have easy access to funding from commercial banks.
  6. The latest market information is not readily available to the small scale farmers and this results in the farmers selling at cheap price in order to avoid spoilage of agricultural products.
  7. Shortage of fertile land
  8. Lack of knowledge about modern farming methods including irrigation.
  9. Lack of necessary equipment to use on the farm during planting, harvesting and value addition.
  10. Lack of adequate supporting infrastructure to the sector like cold rooms, advisory services to the small farmers and mechanism for the small farmers to pull resources.

Thinking and researching through these challenges, led me to come across ways that would not only promote growth and profit in farm yields, but also produce quality crops.

Why this focus? If you think of the whole agricultural chain as a recipe, then the basic ingredients are the farm produce. If we can increase yield in order to have quality produce coming out of the farms, that will translate to quality value-added products being produced and platforms such as Kigali Farmers’ And Artisans’ Market having access to superior #madeinrwanda products to showcase to consumers.

What are these 13 ways?

Various research studies have been carried out and demonstration and actual farms practised these methods globally, that have proved these 13 methods, collectively used, see an overall improvement in quality and consistency of production of fruits and vegetables. The solutions could come from the Rwandan Government but, as a potential investor, you could look at them as ways you could start an agri-business with their support and to help those who are unable to fund, understand or implement these solutions.

  1. Boost irrigation With the growing effects of climate change on weather patterns, more irrigation will be needed. Average yields in irrigated farms are 90% higher than those of nearby rain-fed farms.

Balton CP Rwanda is an example of a business bringing knowledge, know how, high quality inputs and modern technologies to Rwanda’s farmers. Learn more about them here https://www.baltoncp.com/rwanda/

2. Develop high-yield crops Increased research into plant breeding, which takes into account the unique soil types of Rwanda, is a major requirement. An organisation that has really taken this and run with it is FAIM Africa. Founded in 2011 by Steve and Cheryl Jones along with a small investment group and based in Kigali, Rwanda, FAIM (Forestry and Agricultural Investment Management) is the first tissue culture lab and plant propagation nursery of its kind in Africa producing clean, disease free planting materials for the farmers in Rwanda and surrounding countries.FAIM Africa is tackling the challenges of providing clean plants and seeds as well as providing the Rwandan farmers with the knowledge and assistance in successful agronomy practices that will dramatically increase plant productivity reducing poverty and addressing food security in Rwanda. Learn more about them here www.faim.co

3. Increase the use of fertilizers As soil fertility deteriorates, fertilizer use must increase. The Rwandan Government needs to ensure the right type of fertilizers are available at the right price, and at the right times. Fertilizer education lessens the environmental impact and an analysis of such training programs in East Africa found they boosted average incomes by 61%. Cultivating your soil with fertilizers is an important part of maintaining optimal soil conditions for crops on your farmland. Fertilizing your crop at the time of seeding can help provide the seeds with essential nutrients like potassium, phosphorous, and calcium. The root-zone at the base of your crops is the most important area to facilitate growth so your crop can thrive and produce an impressive yield.

4. Improve market access, regulations, and governance Improving rural infrastructure such as roads is crucial to raising productivity through reductions in shipping costs and the loss of perishable produce. Meanwhile, providing better incentives to farmers, including reductions in food subsidies, could raise agricultural output by nearly 5%.

One could also follow the example of Kigali Farms – A local social enterprise I worked for, that had a very supportive buy back scheme. They are one of the biggest producers of mushrooms in East Africa and in the past, they would sell mushroom substrate to rural farmers at a reduced price, train them on how to grow quality mushrooms and when it was time for harvesting, they would buy back the mushrooms at an agreed price. Learn more about them here www.kigalifarms.com

5. Make better use of information technology Information technology can support better crop, fertilizer and pesticide selection. It also improves land and water management, provides access to weather information, and connects farmers to sources of credit. Simply giving farmers information about crop prices in different markets has increased their bargaining power. E-soko, a provider of a mobile crop information services in Rwanda, estimates they can boost incomes by 10-30%. Learn more about them here http://www.esoko.gov.rw/

6. Plant Early, Plant EffectivelyChoosing the right time to plant is often the most important part of planting. The best strategy to use to increase yields is: if your soil is ready, start planting. There are tests you can perform on your soil to see if it is ready for planting. Today’s hybrid seeds create a more sustainable product, but knowing if your field is ready for early planting is just as important. Planting early can result in increased yields by taking advantage of unexpectedly early favorable soil conditions.

7.Practice Seasonal Soil Rotation When you are planting season-by-season, it is important to understand how planting recurring crops can affect your overall yield. Planting crops in consecutive years has been proven to be less effective for optimal yields. This means that crop-on-crop planting should only be considered when your soil conditions are strong enough, or your land mass is limited. If you don’t have access to either, you may need to consider planting alternative crops in alternating years. Planting an alternating crop helps to diversify the demands on your soil. This results in crops that not only yield more, but continually produce year in and year out.

8. Know The Yield Potential It is not just enough to plan your seeds and hope for the best, you should always be sure to understand your field’s growth potential. Understanding the kind of crops you’re planting, and the kinds of seeds you are using, is important when assessing yield potential. Crop producers typically have an estimated idea of the yield potential of their seeds. Understanding this will help manage not only your expectations, but whether or not your yield potential is matching your actual production.

9. Always Scout Your FieldsThe most sage advice you can receive about how to increase crop yields is by scouting your fields on foot. This will give you a chance to assess soil conditions, notice any weeds cropping up, and check that your crops are growing healthily. This is especially true for ‘telephone farmers’ – farmers that are rarely in the field and rely on the use of telephone and a farm hand to keep track of crop growth. There is a lot you can miss when you are passing by your crops at high speeds or when you aren’t there to monitor growth so, hitting the ground and examining your crops is an important step towards a stronger crop yield.

10. Ensure Proper Water Drainage Water management is essential to crop survival and maximizing your crop’s yield potential. It’s important to ensure your crop is getting enough water, but also that they aren’t being over-watered. Developing a drainage system in your crops can help prevent water logging and salinization in your soil, both of which can stifle growth and production.

11.Test Your Soil

Soil testing should be on your to do list right from the get-go, because your soil and its needs will directly influence the growth of your crops. Examining the phosphorus, potassium, and fertilization levels will give you insight into how to handle your crops. It will also let you know when proper soil conditions are forming, such as the optimal density and right amount of nutrients, so you are ready to start planting.

12. Weed Early and Often Weeds are not just the enemy of front lawns and golf courses, they can also compromise your farmland. Weeds are invasive, and siphon nutrients away from the crops you are trying to grow. Weeds always need to be dealt with as early and often as possible. Scouting your fields gives you the opportunity to see if any weeds are cropping up — and putting a stop to them before the problem can get out of hand.

13.Seed QualityHaving quality seeds is the basis for increasing crop yields. Whether you are looking into increasing your crop yields, or maximizing your overall agricultural productivity, you need to consider the strength of your seeds. Using hybrid seeds that are naturally inclined to grow faster, stronger, and with greater efficiency is pivotal to the success of your crops. Non-GMO seeds combine sustainability and cost seamlessly, which accounts for both quality and cost.Crop yields can be as complex as they are important for your farm. Learning how to increase agricultural productivity is always on a farmer’s mind. These tips will provide you with a strong start so you are able to begin putting them into practice, and start maximizing crop yields on your farm.

The author, Flo is the founder of Kigali Farmers’ And Artisans’ Market and is extremely passionate about community building focusing on the youth, women and PLWD running SMEs, micro and home industries.

The big secret on how to unlock and exploit agriculture in Rwanda

Running Kigali Farmers’ And Artisans Market and working for both SMEs and corporates in the food industry, has afforded me the opportunity to see firsthand, the many, many gaps in the Rwandan market. Today however, I shall focus on the agri-business side of things. The market was, and still is, one way to help bridge these said gaps, but this is a very small solution to a bigger problem that Rwanda and many other African countries still have a lot to work on.

So, what’s the big ‘secret’ in unlocking and fully exploiting agriculture in Rwanda? The answer is very simple yet complex…value-Add. By definition, value-added agriculture entails changing a raw agricultural product into something new through packaging, processing, cooling, drying, extracting or any other type of process that differentiates the product from the original raw commodity. Other definitions describe value-add as one increasing the economic value of a commodity through particular production processes that increases the value of the product to the consumer. Whichever the definition, the value addition activity is very important to the farmers because, it increases the value of the raw materials and enables the farmer to fetch better prices from the market. Value addition in rural areas can take many forms including cleaning, preservation, sorting, packaging, processing a raw material into some form of canned food and branding of agriculture products.

How is Value-Add the big secret solution to a lot of the agri-businesses based in Rwanda?Let’s look at a few statistics to help us understand this a lot better;According to the National Bank of Rwanda Statistics, Rwanda generated $463.16 million from exports in the first six months of 2018, up from $375.91 million in the same period 2017. Rwanda’s exports accelerated in the first half of 2018, driven by Government’s efforts to support the Made-in-Rwanda agenda as well as good performance of non-traditional exports, helping to bridge the country’s trade deficit. Traditional exports such as coffee, tea, minerals, flowers and pyrethrum all grew by 28.7% while the Government incentives to support the Made-in-Rwanda initiative drove growth of textiles by 158.8%.

How incredible is this? The Government of Rwanda introduced the ‘Made in Rwanda’ initiative in 2016, which was intended to:

· Boost consumption of locally-produced products· Enhance quality, standards, branding and packaging of locally produced products along the value chain · Change the mindset of the Rwandan people toward locally-made products· Boost value addition along the value chain of productionThe Minister for Trade and Industry called it a “comprehensive, campaign through a robust awareness campaign.” He further added, “We are calling upon producers to conduct intensive publicity about their products so as to complement the sustainability of the campaign,” he said.

What does this mean to you as a potential investor in Rwanda? Half the work is done for you in the value-add sector, as this is a top-down, intensive approach to ensure this is a success.Now, let’s face it, the value-add sector is extremely broad but as you can see, it has already been narrowed down to Made-in-Rwanda (which is one of the core objectives that drives our market by the way).

So how do you know where to start especially if you are new to the country or have lived here all/part of your life?One of the main keys to starting any business is solving an existing problem. Unless you are a gifted one like Einstein, it’s not easy to invent something but, it is definitely easier to NOT reinvent the wheel and just look at how you can solve the myriad of challenges Rwandan farmers are facing.

What are these challenges?According to Fortune Africa, and I whole-heartedly agree with them, they are:

  • Low quality produce as most production is intended for own family consumption hence local farmers do not have strong incentives to increase quality.
  • Lack of business skills and entrepreneurship.
  • The rural road infrastructure and transport is not yet fully developed to enable the farmer to promptly get farm input and also transport the farm produce to the market.
  • There is lack of sustainable market and post-harvest management for the small scale farmers in Rwanda.
  • Limited capital to develop the farms and local farmers also do not have easy access to funding from commercial banks.
  • The latest market information is not readily available to the small scale farmers and this results in the farmers selling at cheap price in order to avoid spoilage of agricultural products.
  • Shortage of fertile land
  • Lack of knowledge about modern farming methods including irrigation.
  • Lack of necessary equipment to use on the farm during planting, harvesting and value addition.
  • Lack of adequate supporting infrastructure to the sector like cold rooms, advisory services to the small farmers and mechanism for the small farmers to pull resources.

All these challenges affect value-add progress and if you can find a solution to one or all of the problems, you my friend have found a potential agri-business to start.

You have a solution, now what?Assuming your solution came about by doing extensive research and you’ve narrowed it down to a line of business you want to start, the next step would be to register the business. Rwanda has the fewest procedures and fastest processes in the whole of East Africa and possibly the world to register and start a business. It takes a few hours for this to be complete.You can register your business online at http://org.rdb.rw/ or at the Office of the Registrar General which is a department within the Rwanda Development Board located in the Kigali the capital city.

What other agencies/companies/Government bodies can be of help to you once you have registered and are starting/started the business? (This is by no means an extensive list but it is a good start/guide)

It would definitely be a miss if I didn’t mention the market.

Kigali Farmers’ And’ Artisans’ Market is a community market that offers a platform for producers, such as yourselves, who are developing, testing, introducing new value add products to the market. We connect you directly to consumers so that you can build and/or expand your brand ‘real time’. You can reach us on +250781446543 on both for calls/Whatsapp or you can drop us on email on info@kigalifarmersandartisansmarket.com

Others

National Agricultural Export Board –Their vision is to be a world class agriculture and livestock commodity export development enterprise through innovation

Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources Rwanda –Provide farmers and consumers of agricultural products with information, techniques and services meant for improving their profession and supplying the internal market with increased and quality production thereby raising their agricultural and animal husbandry income

Rwandex Chillington-Provides agricultural materials

Balton CP Rwanda-They supply everything that is required for growing crops and rearing livestock, along with expert advice on cultivation, animal husbandry and post-harvest solution

Inyange Industries-Produce various products ranging from water, milk and other milk products and juices

Rwanda Tea Authority-They produce and supply high quality teas to both local and international markets

Sorwatom SA Rwanda-Tomato processing plant

SodrisAgri Rwanda-Provide agricultural equipment and products

Remember to #buylocalsupportlocal and take time to #visitrwanda to see all the other amazing opportunities there are to invest in.

The author, Flo is the founder of Kigali Farmers’ And Artisans’ Market and is extremely passionate about community building focusing on the youth, women and PLWD running SMEs, micro and home industries.

Disclaimer: The opinions stated here are of the author and it’s imperative that one does their own extensive research before undertaking any kind of investment

Theme: Overlay by Kaira Kigali, Rwanda
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