9 months after starting to grow the Cayenne pepper, Jean de Dieu Habarukize, 33, living in Karambo village, Mugera cell, Gatsibo sector, Gatsibo district in the Eastern province of Rwanda, has already built a new house for his family with the money he earned from this crop. He has also increased the cultivation surface from 6 to 30 acres. He plans to open a shop that sells electronic devices for his wife in Kabarore center.
Before he started growing cayenne pepper, Jean de Dieu was an electronics repairman. He studied electronics in high school. As he said, the money earned from this profession was not enough to feed his family and pay for the other primary needs of the family. Until now, his family is classified in the first social category commonly called Ubudehe. They lived in an old house, far from the others (not in the village). Jean De Dieu had a dream: to build a new house in the village, near the other families.
In November 2021, he was identified as a beneficiary of the PRM / PAC project, funded by World Vision and implemented by Caritas Rwanda. He immediately received various training on Internal Savings and Lending Communities (SILC), Income-Generating Activities (IGA), Financial Literacy, Entrepreneurship, and Agricultural Best Practices, among others. “I thank Caritas Rwanda for choosing me and allowing me to benefit from these training. They have brought positive changes in my life”, says Jean de Dieu.
After participating in the above trainings, Jean de Dieu started (June 2022) to grow cayenne pepper (on a trial basis) in his 6-acre field with 254,000 Rwf, to see if this type of pepper can grow in the local soil. As he explains, he had 110,000 Rwf from his savings and borrowed 144,000 Rwf from his savings group “Hinduka Wigire” (Change your mind, be resilient), to try pepper growing.
Talking about the beginning of their project, Alphonsine Mujawamariya, Jean de Dieu’s wife, says she did not welcome her husband’s idea to grow pepper. “How can pepper farming feed a family? I was asking myself. When we first started, I advised him to grow pepper on a small area, because I wasn’t sure if it would make us much money”, she says with a smile. But when they started harvesting, she immediately saw the positive results.In 6 months, they earned 2,500,000 Rwf from this pepper growing trial.
Pursuing his dream, Jean De Dieu bought a piece of land (measuring 40m x 25m) for 650,000 Rwf and started building a new house in July 2022. “Although it is not yet finished as I want it to be, we moved in on September 2, 2022”, says Jean de Dieu.
He expanded the cultivation surface to get more production
At the end of June 2022, Jean de Dieu received Rwf 800,000 from the PAC project as start-up capital, to grow pepper as an income-generating activity. He immediately leased two fields of 10 acres (at 140,000 Rwf / year) and 20 acres (250,000 Rwf / year). “As the first farmers in our areas had started growing cayenne pepper 3 years before, I had already observed how this crop changed their lives and the lives of their families,” he said to explain the reason why he expanded his arable land.
Jean de Dieu spent the start-up capital on leasing two fields, buying seeds, and paying for preliminary works and planting. When his plantation bloomed, he borrowed 100,000 Rwf to purchase pesticides. All expenses he incurred are 1,150,000 Rwf, he asserts.
Cayenne pepper production is purchased by local traders, who come to buy it in the field and export it through the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB).
Farmers in the Mugera area have received from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, the irrigation pump that runs in all fields allowing them to cultivate even in the dry season. In his pepper cultivation, Jean De Dieu also benefits from this irrigation pump.
Jean de Dieu has been cultivating his cayenne pepper on 30 acres for three and a half months now, and he has harvested it three times (one per week). The first time, he earned 128,000 Rwf; 280,000 Rwf the second time, and 600,000 Rwf the third time. The price of one kilogram varies between 500 and 1000 Rwf.
This type of pepper is harvested for 6 months, but for the best production the next time, after 2 months of harvest, the cultivator spends one month before starting again. In addition, he constantly changes the place of harvest to keep the pepper growing well. Jean De Dieu hopes to obtain at least 5 tons (minimum) of production in the remaining 3 months (of this pepper season).
In Hinduka Wigire savings group, members save between Rwf 2,000 and Rwf 5,000 per week. But because Jean de Dieu earns a lot during the harvest period and does not want to misuse his money, he asked the savings group to allow him to save up to Rwf 50,000 per week (for the harvest season). The team members told him they would meet to see if it was feasible. He is waiting for the group to decide.
Jean de Dieu plans to open a small pepper processing factory to store the pepper for a long period, in case he does not find a buyer. Although this project is not for the immediate future, he says that as long as he continues to grow and sell his pepper, he will save money and work with banks to make it happen.
He also plans to open an electronics store in Kabarore center for his wife.
As a wish, he wants his family to move from the first category of Ubudehe to the third one.