When she became a widow, Annonciata Mukafurika 54, from Gasabo District in Jabana Sector, asked herself how she was going to raise 10 children that she had with her spouse but refused to get broken.
She decided to pull her arms from the pockets and became a commercial farmer, who recently introduced a unique plant of pearls, which she uses to fabricate various art products.
She didn’t even end his high school but she had an opportunity to receive farming skills from the training, which were prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rwanda Agriculture Board.
“I used to plant vegetables and sell them to hotels. In 2015 when I attended the Trade Fair Exhibition for my vegetables, I saw a special plant of Pearls exhibited by Kenyans and I got interested,” she said.
She asked for the seeds and received two pearls from them which she paid for Rwf5,000, and she sowed them.
She said she didn’t expect much from this new crop but she used fertilizers to give it all possible chances to produce, she said.
Into six months, she harvested two kilograms of peals, and sowed it again to produce more, she said.
For the following season, she harvested 200 kilograms of Pearls and she started to distribute it to other people to have enough pearls produced in Rwanda, and which can be used to make made in Rwanda products, she said.
“I profited the agriculture exhibition which takes place at Mulindi in Kigali every year and distributed the seed to my fellow farmers. I’ve been awarded for that,” she said.
The following year, she attended the same expo, with the product she made from her pearls, as a way to demonstrate to the people she gave the seeds how they should make money from it.
From these pearls, she makes necklaces, ornaments, curtains, bracelets and bags among others.
So far, she distributed the seeds to 540 people, some started to produce while others are still waiting for the harvest, she said.
“Recently, I went to Tanzania for the farming training, but my main objective was to find if there were any other types of pearls they have which I could introduce in Rwanda,” she said.
“So far I found the other two types of Pearls, the red peals which are planted in Burundi, and the other one planted in Tanzania. If I put all these types of pearls together, there is no need to use artificial pearls imported from China to make gorgeous pieces of jewelry or other kind of art products,” she said.
Mukafurika has been able to pay school fees for all her 10 children, 2 of them are ending their university studies and she managed to modernize her home.
She can save at least Rwf100,000 after all expenses of the family and paying her 4 employees who follow up day to day her crops and help her to make products from the pearls.
However, she admits to not satisfying the market, that’s why she is still distributing the seeds to many others to produce enough pearls which can be processed into enough products for Rwanda and regional market.“The market is very wide. I’m planning to train more youth and women how to plant and process pearls to work together to satisfy the
market while developing ourselves,” she said.
She urges other women to look at agriculture as a job which can create good income and help them to take care of all their family needs.
“Be open, you can learn something new from anyone. When I get in touch with people from east Africa, I always look a way to learn new things from them and I always get it,” she said.