As a government initiative to employ the masses and to boost the Rwandan floriculture sector, the 20 ha rose farm Bella Flowers was established in 2016. It is the only rose farm in Rwanda and after proving to be self-sustaining, another 20 ha was added, of which 10 ha is currently in production. By the end of the year, the other half will be in production and will bring the total acreage to 40 ha and offer employment to at least 1,000 people.
Victor Omuga at the IFTEX 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya
At an altitude of 1,600 meters above sea level, in the Rwamagana District (about a 1-hour drive from Kigali International Airport), Bella Flowers grows 18 varieties of intermediate roses in seven colors. On average, 150,000 stems a day are produced and mainly sent to Amsterdam. Also about a quarter hectare is dedicated to propagation.
It is a relatively young farm, and Victor Omuga, Marketing Manager at the farm, is proud of what they have accomplished so far. "In Rwanda, the natural sources are beneficial to grow high-quality roses, but logistics has always been a challenge. To Amsterdam, for example, there are no direct flights, they first go to Brussels. Fortunately, we see that the client base we built up are valuing the quality of our product - which is even after transport of the same quality of the roses grown in countries like Kenya and Ethiopia - and the demand is even increasing." But that's not the only thing that Omuga is proud of.
Not only the demand from their distributors in the Netherlands is increasing, in other countries, the Rwandan roses are becoming known as well. "We also ship flowers to Australia via connections in Johannesburg (South Africa), we sent our first roses to the UK recently, we received several requests from the Middle East, which we can easily reach via direct flights to Dubai and we have prospective clients in Vancouver (Canada)."
In 2016, Bella Flowers started to grow roses on 20 ha. Relatively fast, they proved to be self-sustaining and the government decided to add another 20 ha. Currently half of it is in production and the other half is planned to be ready by the end of the year. So, at the end of 2019, they will be growing roses on 40 ha, which will employ over 1,000 people in Rwanda, something Omuga is very proud of as well. "Offering employment was one of the aims when setting up this farm, and being able to say that we will employ over 1,000 employees makes me proud as well."
Growing responsibly is another important focus of the farm. "We carry our farming activities in an environmentally-friendly way, and we have started to implement programs that minimize water and non-renewable energy consumption. We reduce chemical pesticides usage by using IPM techniques such as insect traps, physical insect barriers and in the near future we will also introduce beneficial insects." Currently, the company is Global GAP certified and is in the process of obtaining MPS and Fairtrade certificates.