Retiree reaps big from greenhouse farming

Many people dread retirement. In fact, retirement is seen by some people as a dark shadow in their lives.
An agronomist inspects Josephine Kayiganwa’s tomato garden.
An agronomist inspects Josephine Kayiganwa’s tomato garden.

Many people dread retirement. In fact, retirement is seen by some people as a dark shadow in their lives.

However, most forget that they are still productive and can still carry out profitable businesses and activities that can benefit them, their families and the community generally.

That’s why, when a person retires, they should not let all their years of hard work and experience go to waste. They should devote some time to community causes as well as engage in income-generating projects to lead decent lives.

Josephine Kayiganwa, a retiree and former Bralirwa employee, falls in the latter group. Kayiganwa, who retired about two years ago, says she couldn’t just ‘sit and relax’ at home.

“After receiving my retirement package in February 2013, I started a greenhouse farming enterprise, which specialises in tomato growing ,” Kayiganwa says.

 “The project keeps me busy and brings in some good income to sustain me and the family.”

Starting out

Kayiganwa says the initial stages of the business were not a ‘smooth road’ as she encountered many challenges: she was clueless about growing greenhouse tomatoes having spent most part of her career life as an office person.

She says after she got her package, she bought a greenhouse from a neighbour, prepared the garden and planted a hybrid variety of tomatoes. The 8m by 15m greenhouse cost over Rwf2 million.

“However, after the first harvest, the second crop was hit by the bacteria wilt disease, which destroyed all the tomatoes,” she narrates.

The disease mostly affects plants from the soranacea family, including egg plants, tomatoes, Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes.

“I, however, persisted because I wanted to have a sustainable source of income, the challenges notwithstanding. I also continued to seek information and learn from farmers who were more conversant with the business,” she points out.

Kayiganwa says because she did not have enough knowledge about the disease, she contracted Balton Rwanda for technical assistance for a period of eight months.

She notes that she paid Rwf30,000 per visit from the agronomist, which totalled up to Rwf240,000 for the eight months.

However, all this has paid off because the disease was contained and Kayiganwa now harvests around 18,000kg of tomatoes from her garden per season.

She says the project has made her retirement more comfortable and enjoyable.

Advice

She advises Rwandans, especially those in formal employment, to plan well for their retirement. She adds that supporting community causes while in retirement could be another way of spending one’s time meaningfully.

Kayiganwa’s example is a living testimony that one can live a rewarding and productive retirement life, if only they plan well, take risks and be innovative. For any retiree out there, especially those with some pieces of land, commercial farming is one of the ways you can spend your retirement years productively.

Always remember that it is never too late to learn, especially new skills that could turn around your life and help you achieve that dream retirement.

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