Xavio Dominico Imbabazi, is a 29-year old young owner of a company dubbed “Golden Insects Ltd” which has invested in farming different edible insects aiming at reaping big from edible giant land snails and exporting them.
He graduated from University of Rwanda’s College of Agriculture with a degree in horticulture in 2016.
Being part of organic farming, the university graduate in agronomy found a business opportunity to create his own job in the Nkotsi Sector of Musanze District.
He said that there are specific snails that are farmed.
He was exhibiting the products at the recent organic farming and organic products exhibition in Kigali.
“One ought to know what kind of snails’ species are farmed. Not all of them can be farmed as some could be poisonous. I farm three species. One of the better edible giant land snails I am farming are called archachatina marginata land snails,” he said.
He said that as an agronomist with skills to identify edible insects, he sources them from ecology.
In only one year having started the business, he has already over 10,000 edible giant land snails in farmland.
“The business is new and I am trying it because many Rwandans are not used to eating edible insects. I am targeting an export market where there is high consumption of edible insects. There are also Rwandans who lived in those countries who are ordering for these edible insects as well as foreigners living in Rwanda,” he said.
Edible giant land snails are served as meat and are cooked in hot water, he said.
“In order to end hunger and malnutrition, insects can be an alternative source of nutrition. One edible giant land snails,” he said.
The entrepreneur has so far harvested five times.
“I sell one edible giant land snail at Rwf1,000,” he said.
Farming edible crickets
He said he is also farming over 40,000 edible crickets, the insects locally known as “Injereri”.
A cricket is a chirping insect that resembles a grasshopper.
“I have clients who already know how to consume crickets. One Kilogramme is around Rwf6, 000. One who consumes two crickets seems to consume proteins obtained from a half of beef Kilogramme,” he said.
According to the 2013 report by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) , edible insects are future prospects for food and feed security.
Organic manure production
Before venturing into farming edible insects, Imbabazi said he started with producing organic fertilizers using earthworms, a system known as vermicompost.
“I mix worms with waste for two weeks to produce manure. I sell one Kilogramme at Rwf200,” he said
He started by using earthworms imported from America which he mixed with earthworms collected from Rwanda and carried out hybridization to get those that he is using today.
He sells one Kilogramme of earthworms at Rwf30, 000 to other farmers who want to produce manure.
“I also train other farmers,” he said.
He produces one tonne of organic manure every week and sells it to farmers.
By using the organic manure and using it, he also started agribusiness where he manages to harvest 25 tonnes of Irish Potatoes per hectare having invested two tonnes of organic manure.
“In order to produce one tonne of manure, I invest Rwf130, 000,” he said.
This means he gains Rwf70, 000 profits every week from organic manure production making Rwf280, 000 income per month.
He is one of 5, 000 organic farmers grouped in different cooperatives to embrace organic farming across the country.
However, some say that getting certification is still costly and therefore limits farmers from exporting organic crops on the international market.