Ejo Heza Chilli Rwanda

Cooperative action and training for chilli producers

Rwandan chilli farmers
tap into global export markets


A challenging market entry for independent chilli farmers in Rwanda

The cultivation of chillies on a commercial scale and the chilli value chain are relatively new in Rwanda. Yet, especially non-perishable dried chillies or chilli oil have immense market potential and are in high demand worldwide.

Optimal climatic conditions in Rwanda allow chillies to be grown all year round. In addition, competitive labour costs make it an attractive sourcing country for organic produce. Some Rwandan producers have already tapped into the export market in India, others became the first African suppliers to debut on the Chinese dried chilli market in 2021. Outside Asia, the demand for chillies remains unsatisfied, especially in the steadily growing European market – the world’s second largest importer of dried chillies.

Despite the high potential, there are still few Rwandan farmers involved in chilli production. Those smallholders who do so cultivate small, fragmented plots, resulting in low production volumes and little bargaining power in the market.

Beyond that, poor infrastructure and inadequate knowledge on appropriate agricultural and post-harvest management and export practices affect chilli production, quality and sales. The lack of proper organisation also limits farmers’ access to agricultural inputs and extension services such as fertilizer, improved seeds, credit or technical advisory.

The formation of farmer-run organisations, such as producer cooperatives, can mitigate these challenges by pooling individual farmers’ resources, know-how and sales. However, newly established agricultural cooperatives often face difficulties in terms of administration, management, marketing or financing.

In Rwanda, strong farmer organisations and technical assistance to smallholders are needed to meet the growing international demand for dried chillies and to unlock the employment potential in the value chain.


Making Rwandan chilli farmers & cooperatives fit for export markets

With the support of Invest for Jobs, the Rwandan non-governmental organisation African Evangelistic Enterprise (AEE) is building farmers’ capacity to grow high-quality chillies for international export.

AEE aims to recruit 240 smallholder famers in the existing Ejo Heza Cooperative and to upskill all 440 existing and new cooperative members in chilli production. The goal is to triple the farmers’ average annual income to RWF 358,550 and create 75 new jobs. To this end, AEE trains aspiring chilli farmers in improved agricultural practices and enhances Ejo Heza’s management capacity and agricultural service delivery. In addition, AEE facilitates market access for cooperative members.

Farmers receive hands-on training from agricultural experts on best practices, such as soil and crop management, food safety and post-harvest handling. AEE also identifies and trains so called ‘model farmers’: These experienced chilli producers will mentor future chilli farmers and provide them with basic inputs and technical advice.

Moreover, AEE strengthens Ejo Heza’s management to attract new members and provide relevant services for chilli production and sales. The management is trained in areas such as cooperative governance, financial management and the delivery of agricultural inputs and services. To enhance market access for farmers, AEE also supports Ejo Heza in the acquisition and management of post-harvest infrastructure, including a storage facility and sun driers.

In addition, a cooperative marketing committee and model farmers are trained to use market information to identify new opportunities and secure higher profit margins. AEE also facilitates market linkages between the cooperative and buyers in export markets. As a result, the trained chilli farmers have a ready market for their produce.

As exports and production capacities increase, Invest for Jobs and AEE help make Rwanda known as a reliable producer of high-quality chillies. For Rwanda's growing rural population, the joint project offers higher incomes for smallholder farmers and good jobs in the expanding chilli value chain.


Expanding chilli production and export capacities

Since November 2021, AEE has mobilised 240 new smallholder farmers to join Ejo Heza Cooperative and start growing Birds’s Eye chillies. Beforehand, farm visits were conducted to determine the suitability of the farms for chilli cultivation.

Including the existing Ejo Heza members, 440 chilli farmers have been trained on good agricultural practices and post-harvest management by December 2022. As a result, the total land under chilli cultivation increased from 5.3 Ha in 2021 to 27 Ha in 2022 and the total production has increased from 8 metric tons to 27 metric tons. Moreover, training on post-harvest management, combined with the availability of drying and storage facilities, has led to a considerable improvement in the quality of chillies.

By the end of 2022, 82 people have already come into employment at the farms, exceeding the initial project target of 75 jobs.

42 model farmers were identified and trained. These model farmers, in collaboration with the cooperative will continue to train new chilli farmers in the future. Cooperative committee members were also empowered to provide agricultural services and help farmers access export markets.

This project to promote chilli farmers in Rwanda is supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in the context of Invest for Jobs on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Project details

Project status


Project locations


Project objectives

Job creation training export promotion



A project with



African Evangelistic Enterprise (AEE)

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We are looking forward to hearing from you

Under the Invest for Jobs brand, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has put together a package of measures to support German, European and African companies in investment activities that have a high impact on employment in Africa. The Special Initiative "Decent Work for a Just Transition" – the official title – offers comprehensive advice, contacts and financial support to overcome investment barriers. The development objective is to work together with companies to create up to 100,000 good jobs and to improve working conditions and social protection in its African partner countries.

Partner countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia.

Find out more about our services for companies, universities, chambers and associations: https://invest-for-jobs.com/en/offers

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