Rwanda - Gitega Hills Lot 140 | Washed | Bourbon
1300 – 2200 masl
|Density ( gram/liter ):||
Nectarine, red berries, black tea, grapefruit juicy and balanced.
SPOTLIGHT: WASHING STATION
Just 12km from neighbouring Bwenda in the Cyanika sector and slightly higher up, adjacent to a disused quartz quarry, sits Gitega Hills. Slightly larger than Bwenda, Gitega covers an area of around 6 hectares and is nearby the small town of Miko. Gitega is the name of the surrounding land cell. A cell being a smaller area within a larger sector, within a larger region or province. Established by RTC in 2016, the station has been managed since then by Alex. He told me that everyone who works at Gitega is from the local community and he feels that the station plays a valuable and positive role in the area for the work it provides. He was also excited to tell me that the good rainfall the area had experienced during the harvest pointed to great quality for the 2022 season’s yields. Gitega employs 150 people including 11 permanently, with the rest being seasonal workers. 90% are women.
1040 farmers contribute cherry to Gitega’s annual production and in 2016 they processed 400 tons of cherry. At the time of our visit they had aready hit 500 tons with the expectation to hit 700 before they stopped processing for the season. The farms all lie between 0.5km and 7km away and are serviced by 33 different cherry collection points. On average the contributing farms grow just 400 trees (1 hectare). Additionally, the station provides farmers with organic EM2 compost which consists of recycled cherry pulp from the station with some animal manure. All 1040 farmers using Gitega have completed or are current participants in the ATP.
Country Population: 11,553,000 approx.
Altitude range: 1300 – 2200 masl (approx)
Total yearly production: 258,000 (60kg bags) (ICO – 14/15)
Processing: Mostly washed, but some natural
No. of smallholder farmers: 500,000 approx.
Average farm sizes: 0-4 hectares
Harvest periods: March - June
In Rwanda, coffee has brought hope for a better future since the dark days of Civil War that shook the country, and indeed the world, back in 1994. Coffee has been used as a vehicle for positive change in the years that have followed, and the country is now rightly heralded as a top producer of fine specialty coffee.
Coffee was introduced to Rwanda in 1903 by German missionaries. As a cash crop it received government backing but the focus was very much on quantity rather than quality. However, the impact of the world coffee crisis in the late 1990s, when prices fell for several years below the cost of production, caused many Rwandan coffee farmers to rethink their position. Working hand in hand with the Rwandan Coffee Board (OCIR Café), international NGOs such as USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other coffee-focused organisations, a specialty coffee sector was created in the early 2000s.
Rwanda is blessed with ideal coffee growing conditions that include high altitude, regular rain-fall, volcanic soils with good organic structure and an abundance of Bourbon. The vast majority of Rwandan coffee is produced by smallholders of which there are thought to be around half a million, with parcels of land often not much larger than just one hectare per family. On average, Rwandan smallholders own approximately 180 trees each. Coffee is grown in most parts of the country, with particularly large concentrations along Lake Kivu in the west and in the southern province. Rwandan smallholders organise themselves into cooperatives and share the services of centralised wet-mills or or washing stations. Flowering takes place between September and October and the harvest runs from March to July with shipments starting in late May / early June.
RWANDA TRADING COMPANY
HQ Location: KIgali
No. of Employees:
Working with 52,000 coffee farming
families throughout Rwanda
Rwanda Trading Company (RTC), our sister company, is a green coffee exporter based in Kigali working with farming communities across the country. RTC processes and exports 20% of the Rwandan yearly coffee production through 18 owned washing stations and 74 partner stations, which receive capital and access to the market from RTC. The motive to start RTC in 2009 was the realisation that Rwanda had 300,000 coffee farmers earning less than 30% of their potential farm income because of solvable yield, quality, and transparency problems. The business opportunity was clear: RTC could export increasing volumes of high-value coffees from the same farmer base, while smallholder farmers and the nation could triple annual farm and export revenue, respectively.
RTC’s Sourcing Department have spent weeks and months in the field to learn the obstacles farmers face when trying to build profitable coffee farms. Understanding these obstacles is the foundation on which RTC developed interventions that can simultaneously improve farmers’ livelihoods, gauge farms’ business potential, and secure RTC’s inventory needs. These interventions are offered through RTC’s transparent sourcing strategy and the Agribusiness Training Program (ATP) that started in 2013 with 2,000 farmers and as of 2022, extends to 52,000 participant farming families.
- 209% increase in household income
- 52,000 farmers trained since 2019
3.5million lbs of digitally traceable coffee in 2021
- $200k of pre-season loans to farmers in 2022
- 350,000 seedlings distributed in 2022