Alex Rose-Innes

When the White House recognises one’s achievements, it is definitely proof that your trajectory could only be upwards. That is exactly what Teddy Ruge, founder and CEO of Raintree Farms in Uganda, can write on his CV.

Raintree Farms is Uganda’s largest agri-ceutical venture specialising in the processing of Moringa Oleifera crops. On Ruge’s 30-acre farm in the Masindi District in North-Western Uganda, his business continues to benefit its local farmers and the community.

Teddy Ruge, founder and CEO of Raintree Farms in Uganda

Raintree Farms developed a unique way of assisting local farmers in earning a sustainable income from commercialising their land with the motto that not only crops are being grown, but also farmers and the communities they live in.

With various international certifications and global recognition, Raintree Farms, a value adding social enterprise, was started six years ago to produce and supply organically-certified high quality Moringa Oleifera to the nutritional, beauty and health markets around the world.

Ruge predicts that within another four years, East Africa will be known as the home of this natural product, much as South Africa’s Stellenbosch region is known for its fine wines.  He said  that Uganda especially, would lead the East African region in setting the standard for how high quality, organic, and socially-responsible Moringa production. He and his team are working toward becoming the most-respected producer of Moringa Oliefera products on the African continent and beyond.

Raintree Farms undergoes an annual audit of its organic growing and production processes to ensure all its employees and farmers in the supply chain are appraised on organic, environmentally-sound methods of growing, harvesting, processing and packaging our products for export.

The two main product lines are Qwezi Beauty, 100% cold-pressed Moringa oil that is totally natural for all skins, types of hair and faces without any adverse health complications. Manufactured from the Moringa seeds it is non-comedogenic. The other main product is the growing of Moringa for health benefits.

Ruge had established a unique and highly successful sustainable income programme (SIP) which allows farmers with a minimum of one hectare to earn a monthly income in return for growing Moringa Oleifera for Raintree Farms.

While subsistence farmers own land, they do not have sufficient capital to invest in it. To address this, Ruge calculated how much a well-managed hectare of Moringa Oleifera could produce annually and divided the farmer’s potential revenue into 12 monthly payments which start paying out immediately once the farmer is on board. It provides farmers with more financial choice as they do not have to wait until harvest. Farmers can choose to hire additional labour to tend the fields or invest such money elsewhere and leave the harvesting up to the Raintree Farms team.

Raintree Farms had also added an Academy to its portfolio of services to grow future farmers and further benefit communities. With more than seven years’ experience in growing, processing, marketing and product development of moringa, a one week training course teaches prospective farmers the tricks of the trade. The curriculum covers planting Moringa and cultivating it for oil and powder.

Field visits are undertaken to teach soil principles for successful growth and include best practices for climate-smart agriculture. Once the training is completed, future Moringa farmers would have been taught organic certification principles, sales and marketing, shipping and logistics, the nutritional benefits of Moringa and finally harvesting and processing procedures.

*Moringa Oleifera is the scientific name for a widely-cultivated medical crop commonly known at the “drumstick tree.” Native to North India, it is sometimes referred to as a “miracle tree” because nearly all parts of the tree have medicinal applications. Moringa leaves, for example, are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals. The plant is a complete plant protein containing all nine essential amino acids. It packs more nutrients per serving than any other plant in its category.