United States Ambassador to Rwanda Stuart Symington yesterday visited Geranium farms in Rusororo sector in Gasabo to assess the progress of Rwandans in planting Geranium oil.
During his visit to the plantation, Symington also held discussions with women who own the plantation and urged them to continue with the Geranium business.
The farms are run by Ikirezi Natural Products which is a community-interest business that produces high quality essential oils and other natural plant products in partnership with small farmers in Rwanda.
According to agriculturalists, with its sweet, rose-like odour and citrus, minty undertones, Geranium is often substituted for the expensive rose essential oil used in perfume and cosmetic formulations.
“The future of Rwanda is hidden in its people and their land, It is up to you to effectively explore your land. The world is coming to Rwanda just because of its beautiful land,” Symington said.
He also told women owners of the farms that, “the products you send abroad will make the world think of Rwanda always. Different types of perfumes are made out of geranium that you plant; you are taking Rwanda to the entire world in a small bottle.”
Currently the organic certified geranium oil sells for around US$135 (approx Frw. 90,000) a kilo and every hectare of land has the capacity to produce around 60 kilograms of geranium oil a year.
According to Nicholas Hitimana, the director of Ikirezi Natural Products, the flower was introduced in Rwanda in 2003. He explained that Ikirezi is committed to improving the financial and social livelihood of the farmers in its partner cooperatives by ensuring that each group receives the maximum financial gain for its crops.
Hitimana added that in their programme they have tried to involve as many widows and orphans as possible in order to try to improve their lives.
The cultivation of Geranium in Rwanda is funded by USAID through World Relief and Rwanda has currently proved to be a strategic area for geranium cultivation in the region.