Rwandan Kigeyo | Limited Release #14Posted on
Welcome to Rwanda, also known as a land of a thousand hills. Rwanda is located in Eastern Africa, neighboring Uganda, Burundi, Congo, Kenya and Tanzania. We know of great coffees coming from Kenya and Burundi, but since 1904, Rwanda was primarily a commercial coffee producer. In the year 2000, however, they entered the specialty coffee scene and have been producing outstanding coffees the last few years.
Rwanda KigeyoOur coffee is from a cooperative organization called COOPAC. Owned by its farmer members and founder Emmanuel Rwakagara, COOPAC operates near the shores of Lake Kivu in Western Rwanda. Established in 2001, they currently own seven washing stations and one mini washing station where coffee, still in its cherry, is delivered by farmers for pulping, fermentation, cleaning and drying. COOPAC beans are shade grown at high altitudes (1500-1900M) which helps the coffee mature slowly. The shade protects the coffee farms from the sun while helping sustain the natural forestation and animal habitat. COOPAC members work hard to maintain - and give back to - the land.
The Benefits of Rwanda Kigeyo to its ProducersClaisse Nzungize, COOPAC’s Deputy Managing Director, tells us that our Limited Rwandan Kigeyo helps improve the socio-economic conditions of local producers as well as their rural society overall. Already, by selling abroad, the organization has assisted with the construction of three schools in two districts and supplied educational materials resulting in increased enrollment. Education isn’t all that benefits from COOPAC’s efforts. Nzungize states, “Livestock has been distributed to the members of the cooperative which improves the economic conditions of the farmers and the quality and productivity of their coffee land.” In addition, the cooperative distributes essentials that help producers with daily coffee actives. This includes transportation such as bicycles and motorbikes, as well as farm tools like hoes, machetes and pruning shears. The income from their coffee production also invests back into the community in other ways by supporting health insurance, children’s education, best cultural practices and more. With an emphasis on environmental protection, COOPAC is Organic, Fair-trade and Rainforest certified. To obtain and maintain these certifications, labor intensive practices are in place. Nzungize describes some of the work involved:
- Agri-Forestation and Agri-Forestry Practices - Through different projects, COOPAC develops nurseries of agro-forestry trees and distributes to regional coffee farmers in order to conserve their soil and avoid erosion.
- Water Management Practices - To manage the used water at coffee washing stations, COOPAC places percolation holes where the used water is captured and treated with effective microorganisms (EM1) along with charcoals before penetrating to the ground water table. They also sensitize the farmers to put infiltration galleries and Napier grasses around coffee farms to help control erosion.
- Organic Fertilizer Use - Organic fertilizers are produced from coffee pulps at the coffee washing stations and distributed to the farmers to use in place of chemical fertilizers.
Training Farmers on the Following Practices:
- Environmental Management System
- Ecosystem Conservation
- Water Conservation
- Soil Management and Conservation
- Integrated Waste Management
- Best Cultural Practices for increasing coffee productivity and environmental protection
- Integrated Pest Management