FEATURED: Horizon SOPYRWA celebrates farmers' day

At least 50 farmers were awarded new mattresses.

Horizon SOPYRWA, a subsidiary of Horizon Group, has celebrated its annual pyrethrum farmers’ day by rewarding best farmers and cooperatives from Northern and Western Provinces.

The colorful event was celebrated on February 13, in Musanze District with hundreds of farmers from Musanze and Burera districts, Northern Province, gathered at Rushubi playground in Kinigi sector. The same event was also celebrated in Nyabihu District on February 14, at Bigogwe playground and brought together pyrethrum farmers from Nyabihu and Rubavu districts, Western Province.

The Governor of North Province Jean-Marie Vianney Gatabazi poses with Central Life Sciences officials  Mike Allen and Mike Pollok and Alex Rusagara  during the event.

Farmers’ day was celebrated under the theme: “Enhancing the quality and volumes of our produce, through motivated pyrethrum farmers.”

During the celebrations, different awards worth Rwf40million were handed over to 550 model farmers and 9 cooperatives. The first category of the awards included 50 heifers that are expected to give manure to improve soil fertility and milk for the family and for sale. The second category of the awards included mattresses that were given to 80 farmers while the third included 240 hoes and 180 gumboots all handed over to pyrethrum farmers.

Horizon Group chief operating officer, Alex Rusagara addresses the event in Kinigi.

Speaking at the events, the General Manager of Horizon SOPYRWA, Gabriel Bizimungu, underscored that this year’s celebration reflects the increase of pyrethrum production and the quality given that Rwanda is now recognized for the best quality pyrethrum in the world.

“The big achievement we are celebrating is an increase in production and quality. Rwandan pyrethrum is number one worldwide. This means we have to maintain that level which requires good practices in the field, post-harvest, and how farmers handle the flowers and how we process flowers at the factory,” he said.

“The reason behind the quality is this area, the area where farmers grow pyrethrum is very conducive; the climate, soil and elevation,” Bizimungu said, adding, “We have also introduced a new system of drying that consists of using sun and air as opposed to previously where we relied on using fire.”

Official from Central Life Sciences, US- based Company that buys the Rwandan pyrethrum produce Mike Allen awarded cash prize of 4,000 US $ to cooperatives.

Figures from Horizon SOPYRWA indicate that about 3,500 hectares are cultivated annually providing an output of 1,5O0 tons of dry flowers equivalent to 25 tons of pale extract. The firm has an extraction capacity of 3,000 tons of dry flowers per year equivalent to 45 tons of extract.

Mike Allen and Mike Pollock, investors from Central Life Sciences, a US- based company that buys the Rwandan pyrethrum produce, joined farmers’ day celebrations and awarded cash prizes to ‘Abakunda Ibireti’ and ‘Abakunda Umurimo’ cooperatives that emerged best overall in quantity and quality produce. Each cooperative took home $1,000.

“Rwanda now makes the best pyrethrum in the world and we all know that starts with each one of you, the dedication and effort that you put in growing pyrethrum flowers, and getting the yield and quality we need to produce the pyrethrum that we saw,” said Mike Allen.

Farmers speak out

The pyrethrum farmers from Northern and Western Provinces who spoke during farmers’ day celebrations testified that they had achieved more in their respective families thanks to pyrethrum farming. “Pyrethrum has become a goldmine to many of us thanks to incomes we generate seasonally. I personally managed to build a house from money that I get from pyrethrum,” said Chantal Nyiragatete, a farmer from Bigogwe sector in Nyabihu district.

Pyrethrum farmers were also given 180 gumboots.

Local officials in Northern and Western Provinces urged pyrethrum farmers to work closely with Horizon SOPYRWA to ensure their produce is safeguarded and sold at standard price. “Pyrethrum farmers should not use informal means to get short term profit, they should rather work hand in hand with SOPYRWA as it always looks to protect their interests as well as boosting their day-to-day livelihoods,” advised the Northern Province Governor, Jean-Marie Vianney Gatabazi.

Officials give cows to the best performers during the event.

The Governor also called on Horizon SOPYRWA to carry out more research on pyrethrum by basically assessing whether they can manufacture insecticide that will fight against mosquitoes that spread malaria stressing that, if found, the insecticide could corner the African market.