Serge Ganza, is one of CIP’s successful decentralized vine multipliers, commonly known as DVMs. With a background in agronomy and rural development, he was exposed to agriculture while he worked as a technician in different organizations over the years hence developing a passion for farming. Working closely with the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) during his stay in International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Ganza got to learn about the Orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP). After six-plus years in this field, Ganza won himself an opportunity to become a key partner in the Dissemination of New Agriculture Technologies in Africa project funded by USAID and implemented by CIP.
Despite the knowledge he had acquired, Ganza explains that being chosen as a key partner might have not only been based on his experience in agriculture but also the fact that farming was always his passion. Therefore with the new opportunity, it was an exciting journey he had begun. Right after being chosen as a decentralized vine multiplier, Serge and other DVMs who had been chosen were ushered to many trainings facilitated by CIP in and outside Rwanda. As a DVM, he received training on modern ways of farming including how to prevent diseases, pests, and skills on how to multiply seed so as to produce quality planting materials.
The journey to success
From these trainings, Ganza made up his mind to take up farming as his full-time job. On a 4-hectare plot of land, he produced OFSP planting material and sold vines to organizations like Caritas, World Vision as well as small holder farmers in Kamonyi.
With CIP’S intervention, more and more market linkages were made and this greatly pushed his work further. As he made progress, he knew there was no turning back.
“As much as I had knowledge about farming and had started doing it on a small scale, I was doing it unprofessionally and had no vision for what I was doing. However, when I became part of the DVMs under the DONATA project, my eyes were open to doing what I really wanted. I got a clear picture of how I can reap from farming due to the training from CIP,” said Ganza.
“During the trainings, we were also taught how to multiply OFSP and ensure that there was seed flow every season. With more varieties being introduced, this increased availability of vines to different buyers and as the demand increased, it needed more of my effort as a DVM,” he added.
Something he kept emphasizing on was that CIP greatly motivated him to do his work. And to Serge, this was a profitable business opportunity. Explaining more to why he decided to fully invest his time in doing this activity, he stressed that to produce seed for other crops, the risk and investment put in, is more expensive than to produce sweetpotato seeds.
With a smile on his face, he narrates how with sweetpotato, one invests less with minimal risks and is assured of high income. With this secret, one of the well-known agriculture business men around Kigali today says his hard work has paid indeed as income increased season after season. In his words, farming became different from what he used to do since OFSP brought significant change to his life.
Above all, he owns a 12-hectare land on which he does different projects including rearing cattle from which he gets milk for his family and sells the surplus.
He says that 60% of the income from selling vines is used to run other projects on this land such as multiplying cassava seeds, growing pineapples and also paying workers for the management of these projects. He is also building a road side collection center and selling point in Kamonyi District which will have a butchery, cold room for vegetables and fruits, meeting hall, offices, bar and restaurant. With this business, he plans to make it a center of all his projects.
He also plans that in years to come, he will use the proceeds from this business to start a processing unit. Therefore, in preparation for this, he plans that at the collection center, there will be three components of training that will be carried out including village information training center where local farmers will be getting information concerning OFSP with help of information materials from CIP. Community Seed Bank as another component is where farmers will be trained how to grow OFSP and some trained to become DVMs especially to produce OFSP as well as vegetables and fruits.
Thirdly, there will be linkage of farmers to market using the collection center and as well, this program will enable farmers to deliver their produce not only at the collection center but also to individual buyers or doing home deliveries. Ganza doesn’t plan to ever leave farming.
In future, he plans to venture into value addition and make products like biscuits and juice among others like it is done in other countries. He says that time has come to put in more efforts than ever by increasing the produce of orange-fleshed sweetpotato among small holder farmers in different districts including Kamonyi and Bugesera where he is already multiplying seeds and encouraging other farmers to do so.