Ernest Hakorimana is making sweet earnings from onion farming following the use of improved seed inputs and the adoption of improved agricultural practices thanks to support from the Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Food Security Project (SAIP).
Hakorimana, 32 who is a resident of Mukarange Village, Karengere Cell, Burega Sector in Rulindo District, Northern Province, cultivates onions on 0.5Ha.
“I thank SAIP for supporting us to focus more on commercialising agriculture by cultivating crops that are highly demanded by the local, regional and international markets,” said Hakorimana.
The youthful farmer explained that the improved farming methods such as the use of improved agricultural inputs and available water for irrigation enabled him to venture into onion farming.
"Last season I cultivated onions on 0.5Ha and harvested 7 tonnes. The yield exceeded my expectations because this is the first time I harvest this much on such a small land,” he said with a wide smile on his face.
According to him, fellow farmers have since embarked on onion farming after seeing what he harvested last season.
He said that SAIP has supported him and fellow farmers to access markets for their produce which has motivated them to focus more on commercial agriculture.
“Planting onions during dry season is beneficial as there is no much rainfall that may cause rotting of the bulbs. The only challenge was lack of enough water during dry spell, however, SAIP equipped us with irrigation systems in our crop fields which has boosted our confidence to engage in agri-business,” said Hakorimana.
According to him, he sells fresh produce to retailers, food grocery owners and small traders from Kigali City who either come to the farm and buy the produce or place orders and get their deliveries.
Hakorimana said that he sells a kilo of onions at Rwf500 this being farm-gate price. This means, from his 7 tonnes he has already raked about Rwf3.5 million.
As SAIP encourages farmers to give more importance to commercial agriculture, Hakorimana said more farmers are growing onions knowing the income it brings. “In the past, we cultivated only for home-consumption but it has become our cash cow.”
The 32 year old is now more than a happy farmer. His journey to improve his onion production has borne fruit.
Hakorimana said that the secret to all this is getting proper training on horticulture farming to enable farmers to understand how to handle their crop and cut on post-harvest losses which he attributes to SAIP agricultural extension staff.
He plans to buy more land for onion farming, get married and looks forward to becoming a successful and model farmer in Rulindo District.
Rulindo (Muyanza site) is one the SAIP intervention sites across Rwanda. SAIP’s main development objective is to increase agricultural productivity, market access, and food security of the targeted beneficiaries in the project intervention areas across the country.
Out of the total area treated with comprehensive land husbandry technologies, 988Ha in Muyanza site are subjected to rain fed agriculture, 1,100Ha gross area in the command area was developed for hillside irrigation.
In the site, there are 12,071 Farmers’ households (6,538 males & 5,533 females). Farmers have been organized into 478 Self Help Groups (SHGs) spread across 33 zones. SHGs have since formed 6 strong cooperatives and 1 Water Users Association (WUA).
The project has equipped farmers with 2 post harvest storage facilities, 3 dryers and 5 horticultural produce collection centres with a cold room. Post harvest facilities have helped farmers to improve food production and reduce post-harvest losses.