EAC integration

Passion fruit makers benefit from EAC advantages

In Burundi, there are people who earn their own living while manufacturing local products. They get advantages of Burundi’s integration into EAC by exporting their production. However, they need much support.-Yves Didier Irakoze

Zacharie Sinumvayaha MAREX Owner and Fidèle Ngendakumana one of his Employees.©Iwacu

Zacharie Sinumvayaha MAREX Owner and Fidèle Ngendakumana one of his Employees.©Iwacu

Soon in the morning, when arrived at MAREX, the passion fruit juice factory in Matongo Commune-Kayanza Province, I was welcomed by Fidèle Ngendakumana , an agent in the factory. While I was waiting for the owner, I discussed with that employee. “For a long time, passion fruit has been cultivated in big quantity here in Kayanza Province. Initiated by a High Altitude Growing Crops project (CVHA), that provided maracuja seeds to people who started then to be much involved in cultivating this fruit,” pointed out Ngendakumana. He adds that it’s later that many people have become aware of the importance of that fruit while selling the product and its juice here in Burundi and EAC member states like Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya. According to him, a cultivated land of 1,500 square meters can give 50-60 tons per week. Then, people can live thanks to this fruit and also buy cattle for having fertilizers very easily. After a kind discussion with Ngendakumana, the factory’s owner Zacharie Sinumvayaha nicknamed “Sous-marin”, came to me and highlighted very briefly how he started the project. “The idea came to my mind in 2005 when Ugandans started to seek that kind of fruit. Then, I made up my mind to create a juice factory of informal transformation called MAREX (Maracuja Export) here at Matongo. Then, we began to work in close collaboration,” he stated. He went on saying that they had been helped by Food and Agriculture Program (FAO) that first built this factory and next created cultivators’ associations and cooperatives at Banga, Ruganza and Kabuye. “We work on assembly lines; passion fruit products come from one place to another until they reach MAREX. Local people benefit much from that; a cultivator is able to harvest 60tons and when he sells a kg at BIF500 he may easily get BIF30 million, you really understand that it is very rewarding. Moreover, the commune collects a lot of taxes because it perceives BIF15 per kg. Matongo Commune is the first one that collects more taxes in Kayanza,” highlighted Sinumvayaha. We need a great deal of support According to Sinumvayaha, cultivators face a problem of plant diseases and lack enough sticks to support the plants as these latter demand a lot of sticks in the field. “We thank FAO, Twitezimbere Project and other NGO’s that support us in providing tools, treatments of plant diseases and car, but we need now the government’s considerable support,” he said. Zacharie Sinumvayaha concluded that the government should facilitate them to export their fruit and juice and organize Trade Fairs for encouraging, motivating and promoting cultivators.