02 Apr 2021

The story of Bertha Bagenyi and mrs. Rukia Ibrahim from Tanzania

This is a story about two Tanzanian women that share our Rijk Zwaan mission: to deliver appealing, high-quality vegetables to the market. One of them, Bertha Bagenyi, is Selector African Hot Pepper (habaneros) at Rijk Zwaan Afrisem. The other, mrs. Rukia Ibrahim, is a smallholder farmer from Uchira Village. This is a story about passion, pioneering and perseverance.

Bertha Bagenyi graduated from Dar es Salaam University in 2013, where she completed a Bsc. general Botany and Microbiology. She joined Rijk Zwaan Afrisem one year after and started to work as a selector of African Hot Pepper, one of the crops in our program Breeding in Africa, for Africa.

Time and teamwork

Breeding is a complex, time-consuming process, which takes several years and high investments. Until now, Bertha has developed three hybrid varieties of African Hot Pepper which are also available at the market now. “Of course you cannot do this on your own, it really is a team effort”, Bertha emphasizes.

Benefits for growers, chain partners and consumers

“The advantages compared to traditional, OP-varieties include a higher yield, an earlier harvest, a longer shelf life and resistances to certain pests and diseases,” Bertha explains. Both growers and consumers benefit from these improved traditional varieties. Consumers have better access to quality fresh vegetables, while growers are able to earn a higher income. Also buyers, like supermarkets, benefit from the more stable and uniform supply.


Mrs. Rukia Ibrahim is one of the Tanzanian growers producing our African Hot Pepper varieties. Some years ago, she participated in training courses from SEVIA, a recently concluded public-private partnership in Tanzania. Here, together with over 48,000 other Tanzanian farmers, she learned how to use hybrid seeds, how to better manage scarce resources like water and soil – for example by using drip irrigation, and how to apply Integrated Pest Management.

High yield

Now Mrs. Rukia is the proud owner of a small, one acre-sized farm in Uchira Village. In the past three years, she harvested between three and four kilograms of fresh, spicy and colourful fruits per plant, compared to less than one kilogram per plant for traditional varieties. She got a very good price for her products, leading not only to a higher income, but also to reinvestment in her farm.

Developing together

Mrs. Rukia Ibrahim is a real entrepreneur – or agripreneur, if you wish, always looking for opportunities to improve her business. This sense of entrepreneurship she shares with our colleague Bertha Bagenyi. Together with Rijk Zwaan, they contribute to a sustainable development of the African horticultural sector and to better access to affordable, qualitative fresh vegetables for consumers in Africa.