Producer: Various small lot holders from Kilimbi sector
Altitude: 1500 - 1800 MASL
Varietal: Red Bourbon
Drying: Dried on raised beds over 30 days
Harvest: Drying completed in April and May 2016
In February this year our export partners built two new coffee washing stations (CWS) in the south west Nyamasheke region of Rwanda. In 2015 the introduction of new zoning laws by the National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) provided an opportunity for our partners to build two new washing stations in an area of Nyamasheke where there were limited purchasing points for coffee growers. The foundation of our relationship is based on our fixed price payment approach. Our partners agreed to work with us with with our fixed price model and together we have adapted it to suit the market in Rwanda. The value chain in Rwanda is different to that of Colombia. In Colombia producers are responsible for production quality right up to dry parchment at which point they sell it to buyers or exporters, producers in Rwanda and greater East Africa, however, generally sell harvested cherry to a central washing station who then manage the remaining processing variables. Rwandan coffee growers generally own a very small portion of land of about .5ha. Aside from coffee, they also grow maize, plantain and other vegetables that are either consumed or sold into the local market for additional income. What makes our partners a great fit for us is we share similar social values. They gifted 2ha of land for the local communities around their washing stations to grow additional food crops, and gifted ten cattle for to provide milk to the local communities. During the construction of Kilimbi, power was bought into the area at the cost of partners, and was run to the surrounding area for the community to draw from. Rugali Coffee Washing Station is built next to the village of Rwamiko and purchases coffee from about 140 families in the area. Coffee processed here is grown between 1450 and 1650 MASL and employs 2 full time employees. They are paid $8 USD per day, compared to the national average wage of $2-3 USD. During peak season, Rugali employs up to 40 casual staff, who are paid 1000 RWF (Rwandan Francs) per day, this is standard for casual agricultural workers in Rwanda and our partners are reviewing this figure for next season. This season, producers were paid an average of 202 RWF per kilo of cherry, on to of this, Raw Material paid an additional 50 RWF per kilo, a total average of 252 RWF per kilo. The average price of cherry paid by other washing stations in the area was 175 RWF and the national market price was 150 RWF, meaning we paid 30% more than the local price and 40% more than the nationalmarket price for cherry. This year was an extra special year for our partners and ourselves. Together, we sought the first official legal permission to produce honey processed coffee for export. NAEB hold strict rules around the production of washed coffee for export, and for good reason. Natural processing production, in particular, is a problem in some rural communities. Some farmers will pick and dry their coffee in the sun as a full natural and sell it into the black market. In this case, coffee can be sold for much lower prices than if it were otherwise sold to a washing station, and this is a problem that can trap farmers in a cycle of perpetual poverty. With this in mind, our Honey and Natural processed coffee’s were produced under special permission of NAEB with in a preset of conditions. Only the most optimally ripe cherry has been selected for production of this natural processed coffee. With the help of a quality manager producers physically check each lot for any physical defects, under-ripes and for any foreign objects, cherry is then floated to remove any floaters. This process is repeated several times. Cherry is pulped through an Ecopulper, leaving only 15% of the mucilage on the parchment. The remaining mucilage ferments on the parchment and changes color as it dries to a yellow-like color. 100-120kg of honey parchment is laid out to dry on raised African beds that are 1.8m wide and 20m long. This is to allow a thin layer of parchment and enable full exposure to air for consistent drying. Drying is completed after 30 days once moisture has reached 12.5%. The coffee goes through a final hand sort after it has been milled, prior to packing.