The chili pepper has high demand in supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, and homes. It is also used in the manufacturing of medical products.
The Rwandan chili is also exported to the United Kingdom, Holland, France and Belgium and to the neighboring countries. The country’s export of chili stands at 21 tons per year.
Rwanda red chili pepper (one of the ripe varieties of Capsicum frutscens and Capsicum chinense) is a red-colored pepper that grows green before ripening into scarlet hue. It is a high capsaicin type that can reach a level of 350,000 Scoville heat units (SHU). It has a number of varieties including cayenne, habanero and bird’s eye. They all like it best in dry areas, with well-drained soils if they are to develop their high capsaicin content. Rwandans call them puwavuro in Kinyarwanda or pili pili in Swahili. One of the most popular exports of chili from Rwanda is a by-product of the pepper, namely Akabanga oil. It helps to make for spicy meat, eggs, bacon and even cassava for locals and international buyers alike.
Growing mainly in Eastern Rwanda, the crop first came to the coast of East Africa in the 16th century courtesy of Portuguese explorers. The chili pepper itself was first domesticated 7500 B.C. in the Mexican and South American old civilizations. Cayenne remains one of the first cultivars and remains popular.
A chili pepper meal is quite healthy despite the intense heat of the spice. The red pods come with a vitamin C daily value of 173 percent, more than enough for curing diseases. The vitamin A concentration goes down to 6 percent, just enough for keeping the eyes healthy. This is complemented by 5 percent worth of the daily needs of beta-carotene. The level of vitamin B-6 is around 39 percent of the daily value. The mineral department is headed by potassium which comes in at 7 percent of the daily needs while bone-strengthening magnesium stands in at 7 percent. The spice is also a source of water at 88 grams.(SELINA WAMUCII, 2019)
Chili pepper sorting
Chili pepper drying
Chili pepper field