When he was growing up he lacked most basic essentials of life. His family could barely have enough to eat, and always depended on one meal a day. This and other hardships early in life made him vow never to live miserably when he becomes of age.
Pascal Muhire always dreamt of the day he would be able to work and change his life for the better. This was partly the reason he started working hard at an early age; his ability to learn new things fast was sort of a bonus.
Growing up in a family of cultivators meant that the obvious activity he interacted with as a young boy was farming.
Though the 39-year-old resident of Miyove sector in Rulindo District, Northern Province dropped out of school due to lack of school fees, life couldn’t have been better; Muhire is presently a successful farmer and the only agro-dealer in his locality.
“I kept trying and never gave up… So long as one stays focused and works hard, they will surely achieve anything,” says Muhire, who boasts of a five-hectare peas and Irish potatoes farm, among others.
He says that when he dropped out of school, he focused all his energies on agriculture. “I am glad my gamble has paid off. I can now confidently say that whatever your situation, if you work hard, the sky is the limit,” he says.
Muhire says farming has improved his livelihood and insured a sustainable source of income for his family.
Muhire says when he was a child he wanted to become a teacher so he could help all the children that weren’t going to school.
“It always made me ‘guilty’ whenever I saw many children in the village doing menial jobs instead of studying,” he says.
But this was never to be as his parents could not afford secondary school fees.
He says when it became clear he would not join secondary school, he ‘grieved’ for a few months over the ‘death’ of his dream, and later immersed all his energy into farming on the family’s one acre piece of land.
As time went on, I became a village expert in farming who all the local leaders were always citing as a role model for young people, he says shyly.
Muhire points out that his big break was in 2009, when he secured a Rwf200,000 loan from a local co-operative to start a purely commercial farming project.
He also opened an agricultural inputs store in Miyove market since the farmers in the locality were travelling long distances to Base town to buy inputs. He notes that because of lack of inputs many people in the area used to experience food shortages.
“Farmers now do not have to worry of where to get inputs like fertilisers and pesticides as it was the case before.
“This has also in a way improved productivity of agriculture in our area as farmers can access inputs in time and get all the essential pesticides they need at my store,” he points out.
The small-scale commercial farmer says he earns Rwf500,000 per month, on average, and employs up to 15 temporary workers.
Muhire started off as a farmer on his parent’s land and later bought a 0.5 hectare piece of land, but he now boasts of five hectares of land on which he rotates peas and Irish potatoes and keeps goats, sheep and cattle. Muhire has 10 cows, five sheep and 15 goats. He has built a permanent house worth over Rwf7m. He is also the first person to extend electricity to his house in the area, giving the locality a new lease of life; residents could now have where to recharge the batteries of their mobile phones.
“My life has changed significantly... As I was growing up, we had to survive on one meal a day. Sometimes we slept on empty stomachs, but now my family has more food than we need,” says Muhire, a father of five.
“Because of farming, I am able to pay school fees for my children at various levels of education with ease, as well as provide my family with the essentials of life I never had when growing up,” he says.
Muhire advises anyone who wants to venture into farming to be passionate about it, saying this is the key driver that ensures success. One also has to be focused and determined, as well as flexible and innovative to keep on top of their game.
Muhire urges farmers to work with credits and savings co-operatives and adapt modern farming methods like application of fertilisers and rearing hybrid seeds and animals that give better yields.
Muhire says he will start a community initiative, where he will give people in the neighborhood hybrid cows as his contribution to society.
“The government recently unveiled a plan to develop the country (second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy – EDPRS II), so this is my contribution to help make it a reality. The plan will succeed only when all Rwandans contribute in our own small or big way,” he says.
He also wants to buy more land to expand his farming, where he plans to use better farming methods and improved seeds so he can get better output. He says these projects are in support of EDPRSII objectives of improving household incomes, ensuring sustainable food supply and job creation.