By Tim Eisenmann, Kigali Farms Summer 2013 Fellow
Kigali Farms is the Rwandan market leader in substrate production and one of the major players in fresh oyster mushroom growing and distribution. We constantly expand our product portfolio with the Grow-It-Yourself Kit or value added mushroom products such as dried mushrooms and mushroom powder.
One of the major problems during our operations in Rwanda has been access to sufficient quantities of high quality spawn. Spawn is the "mushroom seed" that is mixed with cotton hulls or dry wheat grass during a 3-week process to produce mushroom substrate. The substrate is what is sold to growers for mushroom cultivation. We currently source spawn from a foreign supplier, but have identified the need to decrease that dependency and insource this input factor in the mushroom production value chain.
As spawn production is a technology-intensive process which is found almost nowhere in East Africa, we have decided to launch the project together with a more experienced partner from Europe. Founder and CEO Laurent Demuynck has visited GURELAN in Pamplona twice already and has each time returned to Kigali being thrilled by the deep knowledge of the Spanish market leader in spawn production as well as by their collaborative and supportive attitude.
Last week I had the chance to fly to Spain in order to visit GURELAN and their production facilities. Together with the Spanish mushroom experts I mapped out the cornerstones of the cooperation. Focal points include the transfer of equipment from Spain to Rwanda, training of the labor force in Rwanda in operating the machines as well as general consulting in spawn and substrate production. In order to stem the hefty investments for the spawn lab Kigali Farms and GURELAN will apply to seek funding through PSI, a Dutch organization investing in the private sector and promoting knowledge exchange between developed and developing countries.
We strongly believe that such a cooperation will bring benefits to both sides. GURELAN, which has 98% of its sales in Spain will gain exposure in a highly attractive and fast growing market and Kigali Farms will be able to further drive down the cost of spawn, substrate and ultimately fresh mushroom in order to bring the nutrient-rich crop to the dinner table of many Rwandan families.
We would like to thank our newly found friends of GURELAN for their confidence and trust in us and hope to welcome a delegation in Kigali in the very near future.
Tim is a 23 year old soon-to-be MBA student at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He holds a BSc. in Aviation Management from the European Business School in Germany and has spent several years working for Lufthansa, working on corporate strategy, partnerships and joint ventures. Tim came to Kigali Farms to expand his horizons and gain insight into the booming region of East Africa. Click on this link to follow Tim's blog.