PEPPER (Capsicum spp.)
Pepper (Capsicum spp.) is one of the important vegetable crops grown in Rwanda. Peppers thrive well in warm conditions and have a long growing season. The plants require a warmer climate than tomatoes and are more sensitive to frost. Temperatures between 5oC and 15oC result in poor growth. Temperatures around 24oC are optimum for most green pepper varieties. Despite the need for warm conditions the plant is sensitive to higher temperatures. Above 32oC the flowers are inclined to fall-off and few fruits if any, set at temperatures above 35oC especially when these temperatures are coupled with dry winds. Fruits that do form at such high temperatures are normally malformed. The fruit is also very prone to sunburn.
Like most other plants, peppers can be grown successfully on a wide range of soils, but they prefer sandy - loam and loamy soils. Pepper requires soil pH of between 5.5 and 7.0. The soil must drain well with good water holding capacity. It should also contain an adequate amounts of humus and be deeper than 40 cm.
Hot pepper (chili) dominates world spice trade, and sweet pepper has become a popular vegetable and cash crop in the tropics for smallholder farmers in developing countries including Rwanda.
Five cultivated species of the genus Capsicum in Rwanda are: