Rwanda: 'Agri-Prenuers' Introducing Urban Farming and Agriculture Tourism

Agriculture is the main economic activity in Rwanda with 70 per cent of the population engaged in the sector, and around 72 per cent of the working population employed in agriculture.

However, despite remarkable improvements over recent years, the agricultural sector still faces many challenges such as low levels of productivity for both crops and livestock due to low input use, poor production techniques and inefficient farming practices, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

It is for this reason that two entrepreneurs decided to initiate a firm to solve the above mentioned problems and strictly improve modern farming.

Adrian Busingye, is the co-founder and CEO of a Kacyiru-based Crown Agro Initiative, a youth led agro-business enthusiastic to modernize agriculture.

The firm provides farmers and youth with agricultural support services and application of new farming technologies.

Busingye partnered with his colleague Vincent Kirenga in 2019 to start a company that wasn't only aimed at improving farming, but also, to attract agriculture tourism in Rwanda.

As one with background in the agriculture supply chain, Busingye started procuring mangoes from neighbouring countries, but he realised that there was a need for accessibility to good food. The entrepreneurs' first product was to design smart backyard gardens for urban farms or urban homes.

That's how he and his colleague thought of starting a good business concept as most of their clients were seeking more information about agriculture. Even after creating backyard gardens for them, customers required consultancy.

The two entrepreneurs started budding gradually, their most focus was to equip people with smart agriculture tips and techniques.

With time, they employed experts who are assigned to delivering agricultural services and products for their clients.

According to Busingye, the company designs systems that help in the agriculture ecosystem, and also sell agriculture equipment, on addition to offered services such as, greenhouse construction, smart market gardens, agronomy services, seedling propagation, irrigation installation, agro-tourism, agricultural consultancy, and agri-supply chain and marketing among others.

The company designs solutions for urban farmers including providing services to specific farmers, NGOs that they influence to help other farmers.

As a Small and Medium Size Enterprise, the co-founders are passionate about selling what they have to make sure that the new ideas in the agricultural space are taken up.

The company has been able to develop through the support of government institutions, and Non-governmental organizations. They have employed five full-time workers and 50 casual workers so far.

"We believe that everyone can be an agriculturalist through using their knowledge, this is because agriculture is in need of every kind of sector, whether IT, or marketing.

"Our aim is to make sure that youth are engrossed in agriculture and farmers grow from traditional farming to modern and commercial farming," Busingye states.

Like any business, they are faced with a number of challenges, for instance, lack of enough funds to expand, but also, the public isn't yet well acquainted with what they are teaching.

Busingye says that there is still a lack of professional trainings, and business development. Since some of their products are imported, the prices are a bit high for some clients to afford.

The businessmen's wish is to acquire funds to boost their initiative so as to support farmers.

Their company develops projects that can enhance the agriculture sector, they are yet to organize agriculture tourism that will impel the public to join the trip to support farmers with access to the market.

The business personnel are also implementing one of their projects known as 'Crown agro foods' that is purposed to drive their company and a huge impact to the informal sector. The project is aimed at linking farmers to food vendors.

"We want to manage the whole value chain to address the fragmented value chain and organise it. Farmers don't have fixed prices, and at times sell their products at a higher price to brokers and mostly lack enough agricultural information

"We need to create access to fresh food to the food vendors to assist in curbing post-harvest losses," Busingye said.

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