About Us

Ikirezi Background

 

During Rwanda’s colonial period, Belgian farmers introduced essential crops like geranium, eucalyptus and vetiver.  Vestiges of distillation units exist until now especially in the North part of Rwanda. Following independence in 1962, geranium fields were converted to grow other crops, and distillation equipment fell into disrepair. Several small-scale efforts to revive the essential industry occurred prior to the war and genocide in 1994 but failed to achieve commercialization.

In 2002, Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (ASNAPP) performed product and market studies to assess the potential of natural plant products in Rwanda. ASNAPP recommended essential oils, explicitly organic geranium among other, as an attractive agribusiness opportunity. Shortly thereafter, a joint project between ASNAPP and World Relief Rwanda (WRR) was established to study the viability of commercializing geranium oil. Initial funding for the pilot project was provided by USAID in full (USAID).

Following successful completion of the ASNAPP/WRR project, Ikirezi was founded as a community-interest company in August 2005.

The project’s major accomplishments include

  • Sourcing of South African Bourbon-type geranium

  • Mobilization of 100 farmers into two associations, and successful training to grow and cultivate healthy geranium plants

  • Construction of two 200-kilogram capacity distillation units to produce international quality oil

  • ECOCERT organic certification for land and facilities

  • Establishment of a network of domestic and international partners with technical expertise in essential oils

Benefiting from the country’s excellent growing conditions, Ikirezi continued to mobilize and train willing farmers and farmers associations/cooperatives to grow essential oil plants.

Currently farming activities concentrate on our main farm in Gahara Sector, Kirehe District in Rwanda's Eastern Province. Operations also extend to a few committed outgrowers who supply raw materials to Ikirezi.  Ikirezi distills the essential oils sold on local and international markets.

Ikirezi achieved its first organic certification in 2006. since then, ECOCERT, an international certifying organization has been inspecting Ikirezi's operations every year andhas always been issued with an organic compliance certificate valid both in European Union and North America.

We work primarily with widows, adult orphans and very poor people in a holistic effort to restore their dignity, improve their livelihoods, and rebuild their communities.

 

 

 

     

    Women weeding their allocated plots on Ikirezi farm at Gahara site (Kirehe,Rwanda).

    Women weeding their allocated plots on Ikirezi farm at Gahara site (Kirehe,Rwanda).

    We work primarily with widows, adult orphans and very poor people in a holistic effort to restore their dignity, improve their livelihoods, and rebuild their communities.