While most people are staying at home due to the disruption of day-to-day activities by the COVID-19 pandemic, John Bosco Gatete is making the best out of it, by focusing on a large-scale passion fruit farming.
Gatete is one of the smallholder farmers in the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board’s project called SAIP (Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Food Security Project (SAIP), intervention site in Nyanza District, Southern Province, who have shifted from subsistence to commercial agriculture, following support they received from the Project.
Due to improved agricultural practices and water availability for irrigation in SAIP site, in Nyanza, smallholders have since shifted to commercial farming to boost their income and improve livelihoods.
Apart from passion fruits, Gatete who is a resident of Murambi village, Runga cell, Rwabicuma Sector, cultivates French beans and peas on a small scale. He is also a livestock farmer.
“SAIP supported me to acquire passion fruit seedlings, irrigation pumps, and as well trained me on how to prepare land before planting. I am looking forward to becoming a successful passion fruits’ farmer in Nyanza,” said Gatete.
When you visit his farm, fruits have been planted in several rows, short strong poles are seen supporting them from the ground while their sprawling vines are looped around to keep fruits off the ground.
“Passion fruit is an easy crop to take care of, but requires a lot patience. I sell a kilogram of the fruit between Rwf800 and Rwf1000 which is more profitable compared to traditional crops like maize, cassava and sweet potatoes,” said Gatete.
He said that he has planted 3,000 passion fruit seedlings and looking forward to an increased yield at harvesting.
The farmer has since introduced his neighbors to passion fruit farming saying that commercialization of agriculture is the way to go, instead of relying on nonprofit subsistence agriculture.
“I advise other farmers to venture into the passion fruit farming, since there is a huge market and better prices for the crop,” he said. Apart from Nyanza district, SAIP is also implemented in Rulindo, Karongi, Rutsiro, Nyabihu, Rwamagana, Gatsibo and Kayonza.
Since its inception in December 2018, SAIP has boosted agricultural productivity, with much of the emphasis on commercialising agriculture using modern inputs and encouraging the integration of smallholders into agricultural value chains, particularly those producing for export markets.
SAIP’s main objective is to increase agricultural productivity, market access, and food security of the targeted beneficiaries in the project intervention areas.