The use of science, technology and innovations in the agricultural sector can help farmers to plan or expand their activities while reducing the challenge of climate and weather change. I found that one of most sustainable technologies could be the use of greenhouses.
In this story I would like to showcase the use of greenhouses in Rwanda, by “The Sake Women’s Cooperative”, a women’s farmers cooperative cultivating tomatoes in a rural area.
This cooperative started with an idea of using new technologies and techniques to generate an additional income. Based on information obtained through their networks and their own experience, they chose to use greenhouses to grow tomatoes. They received a grant of 11 million Rwanda francs (appr. US$14,000) from the Imbuto Foundation. Of this, a budget of 10 million Rwanda francs was used for the construction of the 40m x 10m greenhouse itself. This was rather expensive as it is difficult to find the expertise and technicians locally. Technicians from outside of the country had to brought in, increasing the start-up cost of the project.
“The Sake Women’s Cooperative” members learned the advantages of greenhouse farming, and how they could get a high yield on a small parcel of land. Growing tomatoes in greenhouses also reduced the risk of damaged or infested crops and reduced the need for extensive weeding, typical for the outdoor’s cultivation of tomatoes.
In their greenhouse of 40m×10m, they have 870 tomato plants. They use manure as an organic fertilizer. They use rain water for irrigation of the plants. The cooperative plans to harvest about 7,2 tons of tomatoes in their first harvest. In one year they harvest three times, with an income of 3 million Rwanda francs (appr. US$3,800) per growing cycle. So per year, they will get a revenue of about 9 million Rwanda francs (appr. US$11,500).
The use of greenhouses is a relative new technology in Rwanda, and the cooperative still has to learn as they go along… One of the challenges is also to find new markets, and get market access. They need to learn the skills to tend to their crops day per day. They are challenged with finding adequate storage techniques and post-harvest technologies. But they are motivated and will learn as they go along.
I am looking forward to attend the 7th African Agriculture Science Week to see how the government and the private sector are willing to invest in educating local youths on greenhouse technologies, specifically in the construction of the structures. Reducing the current high construction costs will decrease the start-up cost, and increase the profit for local communities and cooperatives such as “The Sake Women’s Cooperative”.
Blogpost and picture by Muhire Rodrigue – rodriguemuhire7(at)gmail.com, #AASW7 social reporter.
This post represents the author’s views only.