The Tuzamurane Co-operative was established in 2016 when Wilderness approached the Bisate villagers to purchase parcels of their agricultural land, with the objective of building its now ground-breaking eco-lodge. The co-operative currently consists of 241 households from Bisate village.
Since its formation, the Tuzamurane Co-operative has been supplying goods to Bisate – from labour for the lodge’s construction (ongoing to this day) to freshly harvested potatoes and carrots! Many of Bisate’s permanent team members are connected to the Tuzamurane Co-operative – an enduring relationship that has greatly improved the lives of the people in the village around Wilderness Bisate.
The successful reforestation project at Bisate is the result of a joint effort between the lodge and Tuzamurane Co-operative – during each planting season many casual workers are employed to assist with planting and taking care of the indigenous trees in the Bisate nursery. By now we can say that most Tuzamurane members are skilled agronomists!
Through our community committee in the Bisate area and generous guest donations, we also support Tuzamurane with small-business development projects to empower the residents in the villages.
The first business we started, and are still supporting, is a large-scale agricultural and indigenous tree nursery at Bisate village. The nursery provides indigenous saplings to the national park for when the park expansion begins, and also provides agricultural trees, especially avocado saplings, as a food source for the community. Two plots of land were purchased with our financial assistance, but are registered in the name of the Tuzamurane Co-operative. We also supported the storage space for this nursery, water connection, all tools, a toilet for the workers and all necessities to start up the business. The nursery now runs independently and they successfully sell avocado trees each year. The total value of Wilderness support, through donations from our guests, is USD 17,570.00
The second small Tuzamurane Co-operative business we support is a start-up for the production of organic fertiliser and compost to supply farmers in the area. This project has been running since March 2023, and impressively, has now trained most farmers in the area on the usage and production of organic fertiliser. The total support provided by guests who visited Bisate is valued at USD 8,000.00. The organic fertiliser is a combination of raw materials like leaves and grasses, maize and bean crop waste, clay, cow dung, ash from the kitchens, and charcoal residue. To date, there is a great quantity of around 25 tonnes of manure ready to be sold, which should also ensure that this business will run without the need for additional support.
From 17 to 20 October 2023, the General Assembly of the co-operative trained all 241 active members in the production of organic fertiliser. All participants also went home after the training with avocado saplings to plant at their homes. This training will ensure that all members can supply their own fertiliser for their farms, and can make some additional income by selling the fertiliser to others. We hope to reduce the use of chemical fertiliser in the area, which harms the soil and over time affects the productivity of the land.
“Through the Tuzamurane Co-operative and the Bisate community committee, people in the area and Wilderness Bisate are happily intertwined and work together on a daily basis. Together we hope for many more successful years, so that we can continue to empower the residents of our surrounding villages”, says a proud Ingrid Baas, Wilderness Rwanda Operations Manager.