KIGALI (Reuters) - Rwandans enjoy eating beetroot but entrepreneur Assumpta Uwamariya has found a novel use for the vegetable - turning it into a red wine that has proven popular with customers in several African countries and even as far away as Germany.
Unable to find a job after graduating from university, Uwamariya started growing beetroot for a living and then learned how to turn it into a rich, earthy red wine known as "Karisimbi".
The 27-year-old now grows beetroot on a three-hectare farm in the Rubavu district of western Rwanda, employing 17 people. She also buys the vegetable from local farmers.
The beetroot is gathered, washed, cut into small pieces, boiled and left to ferment. She produces around 620 liters a week but hopes to more than double that by next year. She currently sells about 1,000 bottles every month.
Most of her customers are in Rwanda, including the capital Kigali, as well as in Mozambique and Democratic Republic of Congo, she said.
"I also found out that I have customers in Germany. I don't now how my wine got there, but they told me that they tasted my wine and started ordering from me afterwards. Some of them even came all the way here to see me and buy wine," Uwamariya said.
Her Rwandan customers seem well satisfied.
"It doesn't really get you drunk like when you drink other types of alcohol. It just gives you a little buzz, it's really tasty," said one, Janvier Muhoza, in a local bar.
Another, Gandika J Boco, said: "What I like about this wine is its price... It's affordable for most people, and it's quite affordable compared to imported wines."
(Reporting by Themis Hakizimana. Writing by Gareth Jones. Editing by Patrick Johnston)