Flowers are delicate plants that need a lot of care right from the nursery bed, to the market stalls and to the time when they are placed at the centre of our rooms.
Julie Mbabazi loves flowers and this has driven her to decorate her verandah with lots of them.
“Flowers mean a lot to me. I enjoy looking at them mostly in different colors like those in my sitting room. Its one thing that makes me happy,” Mbabazi said.
Flowers have a remarkable significance when it comes to the expression of feeling amongst human beings. This is one of the greatest attributes that flowers have. Although different colored flowers are used, red roses are outstanding as an expression of love and are sold the most during Valentine’s Day.
“Some flowers bring back memories each day. When I look at them, I am reminded of my youthful days, that keep me grateful and a happy mother,” she explained.
She also noted that fresh flowers make the dining table lovely and increase your appetite before meals.
However the process of growing flowers is more than what people imagine. Flowers require extreme patience, timing, and careful nurture if they are to thrive.
Grooming flowers as a business is not popular in Rwanda as compared to other flower businesses elsewhere in the world.
According to Milly Wamahoro, the manager of Saint Paulia Flower Centre, located at the heart of Giporonso in Remera town, it is a worthwhile business.
She manages one of the biggest flower businesses in Rwanda-- an entity that has been operating for over ten years with three branches expanded in other parts of Kigali.
“Right from the nursery bed, the soil that is used should be moist and porous to enable excess water to drain out in order to prevent damage on the flowers,” Uwamahoro said.
Uwamahoro points out water regulation as the most important factor one has to bear in mind if they want to benefit from the flower business.
According to Wamahoro, “the watering system of the nursery bed should be modern to avoid destroying the plants by pouring a lot of water at the same time.”
She said that the use of watering cans that allow a limited quantity of water to be absorbed by the plants is advisable.
Creeping plants and a wide variety of plant species, fill Saint Paulia Flower Centre with an exotic and natural flowery aura that cannot escape passersby.
The stronger leaves of the creeping plants are intertwined on the thin ropes that run across the poles in opposite directions that make the nursery.
This design is in such a way that a green mat-like shelter is formed that hovers over hundreds of delicate flowers in pots stationed beneath.
“The flowers are protected from heavy rainfall that would otherwise damage them,” Wamahoro said.
According to Wamahoro, flowers are transplanted after a month’s time or two depending on the demand. Other plants are also transferred to the selling outlets where they are treated the same way as in the nursery bed.
Flowers do not thrive well during the dry season.
Uwamahoro said “very delicate flowers dry up, business becomes slow due to the very low customer turn-up, and there is an increase in the cost of production due to extra watering of the flowers.”
“We have to provide enough water to these flowers. This is to ensure that they are not dried by the high temperature,” she said.
She added that, on a typical dry day, more than 2000 liters of water are used for only one round of watering.
“This is minus the transportation cost that depends,” Uwamahoro said.
Different flowers cost differently; the type and stage of development of flowers demanded is what determines the cost that ranges between Rwf200 and Rwf20,000.
The availability of flower pots makes the flower business complete. Without these, transportation of these plants is barely possible.
Daniel Hakizimana is a pot maker. He acquired the skilled art of pot making from his older brother who is a trained and professional pot maker.
“I picked interest in pot making after I saw how profitable it was. My brother earned a lot out of it; so I asked him to train me and now I am competent,” Hakizimana said.
Hakizimana has been in the pot making business for over three years. He currently operates from Gacuriro where he produces a variety of pots. His products come in two forms that also determine the cost.
“I make some from different types of soil while others are a mixture of cement, sand and concrete stones,” he said.
He determines the cost of a single pot depending on its quality, material used and its size.
“The cheapest is Rwf5000 while the most expensive depends on my customer’s needs,” he said
“I used to make some for display, but currently I receive early orders from my clients,” he said.