Mutima Farm Ltd: hydro- and aquaponic farming in Rwanda

In Rwanda 30 percent of the population is between 16 and 30 years of age.

These young people face high rates of unemployment, but don’t see agriculture as a viable business or employment opportunity. As a result, the nation’s population of farmers is aging and unable to keep up with the rising demands of the food market. Rwanda imports a variety of produce from regional markets to meet domestic demands, suggesting that innovative
agricultural entrepreneurs could flourish here. Mutima Farm Ltd will become the first integrated commercial hydroponics and aquaponics farm in Rwanda.

How did this concept start?

Noëlla Ndayitabi, entrepreneur: ‘I am the chairwoman of House of Netcher, a
foundation that promotes talent development, leadership qualities and self-reliance
among youngsters [ages 16–28] in the Netherlands. I’m also politically active in a youth party and have executed several projects. When I found out about Making Africa Work I contacted the organisation and consequently discussed my project plan with Dr. Saskia Harkema, who lectures in innovation and entrepreneurship, to arrive at a roadmap to establish the business plan.’

How did MAW help in developing the concept further?

NN: ‘During two weeks of research in Rwanda I visited the Ministry of Agriculture, the Rwanda Development Board and networked with various others. I established
professional ties with Eza Neza Aeroponics, a Rwandan-based company founded by
Chris Irakoze and Aimé Bizimana. Its objectives are to enable urban farmers to use a simple but innovative aeroponics solution to produce food crops. Back in the
Netherlands, TGS Business and Initiatives Development have been chosen as a key
partner because they are knowledgeable about the development and implementation of hydroponic and aquaponic systems and the development of large commercial farms. Additionally, Fairchar, a Dutch social venture, is a key partner, home to a team of highly skilled experts in ecology, CO 2 capture and storage, capital management and businessinnovation.’

What is your vision for the future?

NN: ‘Next steps are to research and establish contacts with a network of financing
partners.’