Banana farmer reducing post-harvest losses through value addition

Joseph Mugiraneza’s flour made out of bananas.

Joseph Mugiraneza is the founder of Jupiter i50 Ltd, a firm that processes bananas into juice, crisps, biscuits and flour. His farm is located in Gasabo district.

The 27-year-old accounting student’s zeal to start this business started during the previous banana season in Eastern Province whereby most of the produce was getting spoilt. This was due to lack of post-harvest storage facilities.

He sought ways and avenues of how he could get process the bananas into various products and retail them.

His learning avenue of choice was YouTube where he learnt how products he could make from the yellow bananas and how.

It didn’t take him long to start, because the processes seemed easy; all he needed was some capital to acquire the machines.

Luck for him, he was supported by his parents with a Rwf 1.5M loan. It was with this money that he budgeted and started operating in January this year.

After a few months, the entrepreneur opened up a shop that supplies his products in Ngoma District.

Since he couldn’t do everything on his own, he hired three employees to assist him.

“I have clients in Kigali, Gasabo, Kicukiro, and Nyarugenge whom I supply my products to everyday, for instance; hotels, kiosks, restaurants, supermarkets and shops,” he said.

He sells crisps at Rwf 500 per pack, flour at Rwf 2,000 per Kg and banana juice at Rwf 1000 per liter.

Challenges

He explains that at the onset of his venture, returns and profits were hard to come by   despite continuous investment.

Packaging the products appropriately also comes at a significantly high cost.

He explained that getting the Standards Mark from the Rwanda Standards Bureau is also hard. To qualify for the mark of approval, firms are required to improve packaging and presentation of products among other aspects.

Achievements

“All I can say is that, for now, I have gained customers and experience,” he noted.

Future plans

Mugiraneza’s plan is to be among the leading banana juice and snacks manufactures in Rwanda and for his brand to grow bigger in and outside Rwanda.

He looks forward to starting a banana energy drink soon, and is currently engaged in research.

Tips on a banana snacks’ firm

“You should have banana suppliers. Target local restaurants and shops mostly. You can make pancakes, biscuits, cakes, yoghurt and much more from yellow bananas, don’t limit yourself,” Mugiraneza notes.

He believes that for you to make healthy and delicious snacks from yellow bananas, you need to get some training.

Mugiraneza stated that you should have a target of the number of clients you want to have on a daily basis.

“Find means of advertising for your company through social media platforms and sell products at a price that will enable you get profits every day,”

Mugiraneza added that one should get some advice from people who have been involved in the trade before they enter into the business. This will among other things enable them unique in comparison to their competitors.

“Learn from your mistakes and do better. Mistakes are there to teach us the way forward.  For instance, I learnt that packaging is very important as some customers are attracted to the product because of how best it is packaged,” he added.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

 

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