Marked by lush greenery and gentle slopes, Kayonza-4 site located in Kayonza district, eastern province is one of the Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Food Security Project (SAIP) sites that are prone to harsh dry conditions which hinder farmers’ ability to cultivate all year around.
Following land treatment, and development of irrigation systems by the project farmers organized under GIKADINI cooperative have embarked on chili pepper farming which is earning them huge investment returns.
Gikadini cooperative was established for various purposes, including cultivation of horticultural crops (fruits and vegetables), empowering smallholders to increase bargaining power and improve productivity.
With calls for farmers to diversify to high value crops, members of GIKADINI cooperative have taken up the challenge and embarked on cultivation of chili pepper on a large scale.
“Before the introduction of chili in our area, we were mixing a wide range of crops such as beans, maize and vegetables on this particular land where we have cultivated chili pepper and the yield was very low,” said Dancile Mukandayisenga, President of GIKADINI cooperative.
She added when SAIP intervened in the area, they were told to venture into commercial agriculture to generate enough income and revenue from farm sales.
“We have embarked on cultivating chili pepper on a large scale because the yield and income from chili is prospective. There is a ready market and returns are good,” said Mukandayisenga.
According to her, SAIP has provided the cooperative with improved seeds, farming extension services, chili agronomy training and market linkages which has led to increased chili yield.
Presently, the cooperative is made up of 67 members and has expanded chili production on 112 hectares due to availability of water for irrigation and improved agricultural practices which boosted cooperative members’ confidence to focus more on commercial agriculture.
Farmers thank SAIP for providing them seeds, farming extension services, chili agronomy training and market linkages which has not only increased their incomes but also bred healthier crops that meet the high standards of international markets.
GIKADINI cooperative has since entered into contract farming with Gashora Farm whereby both agreed on the terms and conditions for the production and marketing of chili pepper.
Regarding the prices of chili, the contract farming agreement specifies the quality required and the price as agreed by both parties that is the farmer and the buyer.