A delegation from the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany headed by Dr Volker Wissing, Minister of Economic Affairs, Transport, Agriculture and Viticulture visited Sina Gerard Enterprise Urwibutso’s farms and factory on August 29, 2019.
The visit to the delegation and other people was a mere shaking of hands, exchanging pleasantries, sharing Lunch with the Sina’s family and Staff of the enterprise and Rulindo district officials, visiting the enterprising farmer, entrepreneur who has made it through investing in rural agriculture, but to Sina, they were angels sent to fulfil his dream- viticulture and wine production.
“I am grateful to the delegation that was lead by the Minister. Travelling in many countries in Europe prompted me to venture into viticulture and winery, this made many foreigners interested but of course on a special note Germans have expertise in viticulture and I know they will help us,” he said.
Sina Gerard, founder and Managing Director, Sina Gerard Enterprise Urwibutso, a renowned farmer, leading manufacturer mainly agro-processing says that he ventured into viticulture- grapes growing as well as wine production where the winery is already in place, but something was still lacking, putting all his efforts down and strolling back returns on investment.
“I could see the grapes and understand that there is something lacking, the wine we were producing wasn’t the wine in my mind that I wanted to produce,” the soft spoken Sina who has helped farmers to shift to commercial farming by setting up model farms for all crops and livestock told the delegation.
He further explained that viticulture and wine production is new in Rwanda but carries potential to contribute to the growth of the economy as well as transforming people’s livelihoods through income generation, this thus poses a challenge of finding experts in this sub sector.
“The Rhineland’s palatinate is well known for its expertise in areas of technology, grapes farming and wine making ,they have a lot we can learn from and this is why am impressed that they have accepted to give us their technical expertise,” he said.
Minister Wissing said that Sina Gerard’s innovation and creativity mainly in farming and agro-processing is a sign that Africa and Rwanda in particular is ready to be self sustaining and lift people from poverty adding that Germany will be providing its expertise in viticulture to support the enterprise’s venture.
“I have been impressed by what I have seen here in farms as well as in the winery, I have a lot of experts with me and there is a lot of innovation which I believe we can help,” the Minister said.
Wines and spirits are among products that contribute to rising food and beverages import receipts that up imports to cause the untamed country’s trade deficit staggering at US$ 182.83 million in February this year.
The enterprise’s main focus as Sina explains is to help the country to produce its own products for local consumption as well as exports in a bid to be self reliant and cut down trade imbalances, create employment opportunities especially for the youth and women among other things and winery poses such a great potential.
The delegation also visited farms that included the grapes gardens, horticulture, livestock- cattle, goats, sheep, chicken and other birds, donkeys as well as pigs, where he was shown commercial farming methods and land use management systems that has helped Rwanda utilise its little land. Most of these are model farms that Sina uses to demonstrate to farmers to adopt modern farming.
Emmanuel Kayiranga, Mayor Rulindo district-Left chats with Dr Volker Wissing, Minister of Economic Affairs, Transport, Agriculture and Viticulture during a visit at Sina Gerard Enteprise Urwibutso in Rulindo district on August 29,2019. (PHOTO/ Nzabirinda Eric)
Emmanuel Kayiranga, Mayor Rulindo district says that Sina stands as a role model for farmers as well as entrepreneurs in the district and noted that with the expertise from Germany, more farmers and not Sina alone would adopt Viticulture which is another achievement for the district.
“We are hopeful that they will give us expertise so that many farmers can adopt the grapes farming,” he said.
Wissing and the delegation also visited College foundation Sina Gerard, where the Minister pledged scholarships and student exchanges in order to help Rwanda students to have technological and scientific knowledge to support the growth of sectors of agriculture and technology.
Sina, while explaining on why he started the school noted there was need to have sustainable growth mainly in agriculture and agro processing, there need to equip young people with knowledge and skills.
“We are teaching agro-processing, agriculture, veterinary and technology in this school so that in future when we are not here what we have done can be transferred to the next generations,” he explained.
The visit comes after the Minister signed a Joint Letter of Intent on deepening cooperation in the field of agriculture between Rwanda and the German State of Rhineland-Palatinate. Moreover, the visit is also a pledge Rhineland Palatine made when Sina Gerard visited the area some years back.
Through this agreement Rwanda and Rhineland-Palatinate agreed to promote cooperation in the fields of agriculture mainly in smart farming in the age of digitalization, sustainable winegrowing and enhancing cooperative management by introducing new management techniques and tools, and exchange visits between cooperatives in Rwanda and Rhineland-Palatinate.
“Actually we have invested a lot in our precision farming ad we have a lot of experience in grapes farming and we have decided to cooperate with Rwanda on this sector we want to help Rwanda to grow grapes and produce wine,” Wissing added.
“We want to cooperate on precision farming sector because this is very effective it makes agriculture more efficient and it’s very important and the knowledge we have we want to share,” Minister Wessing added.
The Germany and Rwanda’s cooperation that has existed for 37 years benefits both countries in different sectors of the economy including culture.