Sanctuary - Burundi
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120+ members of the Rama Women's Association in the Ngozi region of Burundi
1661 - 1700 masl
Notes of Cherry and Yoghurt
SCA Score - 87
Our Sweet Dionne raises money for rescue ex-racing greyhounds at Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare located in Hersham. This sanctuary is devoted to caring for ex-racing greyhounds and finding them new homes. If for whatever reason a hound is struggling to be re-homed, they will always have a place at the sanctuary. They rely entirely on donations from their fantastic supporters and members of the public.
We adopted our very own sweet Dionne from Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare and often take her back to visit kennel manager, Carol, who is always thrilled to see Dionne (who she knew as Gail!). Carol is the heart of the kennels, surrounded by long term supporters who all keep in touch over Facebook. Anything the hounds need everyone is happy to chip in and help, it truly is so heart warming.
This stellar Natural Bourbon from the pioneering women’s empowerment group, Rama Dufatanemunda, is the product of many years hard work and advocacy for women's right to own land by the women in the group. Establishing their credentials and gaining autonomy over their own land was a long, hard slog, but now that they’re up and running, we’re proud to continue supporting their incredible work in Burundi.
Several years ago, Marie-Annonciate began mobilizing other women in her community (near Mubuga washing station) to band together and gain access to land tenure. In Burundi, women are functionally prohibited from owning land due to patrilineal inheritance laws and the lack of government land codes. Women activists are hard at work advocating change in the government and in legal code, yet patriarchal customs continue to dominate, especially in rural areas where they exclude most women from owning their land and make female inheritance nigh on impossible.
However, Marie-Annonciate knew that change comes from the people, as well as from the government. Her vision and drive gained the support of the Kahawatu Foundation early on. The group also received support from Greenco, a company that oversees and structures washing stations in Kayanza province of Burundi, giving washing stations and producers support all along the production chain.
The foundation and Greenco supported the group’s application process. The women lobbied government for several years, but ultimately were unable to secure their members’ rights to own land as women.
However, even as one door closed, another door opened, and the story didn’t end there. Several individuals noticed the Rama group’s determination in their fight for land rights. In the end, a local community member leased their land to the group.
When the time to own and operate their own land finally arrived, the women of the group were well-prepared to begin farming immediately. Throughout their fight for land, the members of Rama spent time training with Greenco in Good Agricultural Practices and created a financial unit for the group.
And their hard work paid off. Nizigiyimana Françoise, the president of the Rama Women’s Association in 2018, told visiting representatives from Sucafina that, because they were successful applying Good Agricultural Practices on both individual and communal farms, members had seen an average increase in production from 0.7kg per tree to 2kg per tree.
The Rama women’s association produced their first crop in 2017. Before their first crop, they spent two years preparing the land and established a model plantation with healthy trees. Alongside coffee, the member farmers also grow beans, vegetables and potatoes, as well as keeping livestock to produce organic fertilizer for the farms.
Rama members selectively handpick cherry and deliver it to Mubuga washing station, where their cherry maintains traceability through the entire process. Quality assurance begins as soon the members deliver their cherry. Cherry is wet processed under constant supervision. All cherry is floated in small buckets as a first step to check quality. Greenco still purchases floaters (damaged, underripe, etc) but immediately separates the two qualities and only markets floaters as B-quality cherry. After floating, the higher quality cherry is sorted again by hand to remove all damaged, underripe and overripe cherries.
After sorting, the beans are then transported directly to the drying tables where they will dry slowly for 3-4 weeks. Cherry is laid out in a single layer. Pickers go over the drying beans for damaged or defective beans that may have been missed in previous quality checks. The station is very strict about allowing only the highest quality cherry to complete the drying process. The beans are covered with tarps during periods of rain, the hottest part of the day and at night. On the table, the beans are dried to 11.5%.
Once dry, the coffee is then bagged and taken to the warehouse. Greenco’s team of expert cuppers assess every lot (which are separated by station, day and quality) at the lab. The traceability of the station, day and quality is maintained throughout the entire process.
The average cherry buying price for Greenco in 2019 was significantly above average. Washing stations make the first payment to farmers between 15-30 June. The second payment comes later in the summer. If the coffee wins a competition or sells for extremely high specialty prices, Greenco gives another payment approximately a year after the harvest season.
Once dry, the parchment coffee is then bagged and taken to the warehouse. Greenco’s team of expert cuppers assess every lot (which are separated by station, day and quality) at the lab. The traceability of the station, day and quality is maintained throughout the entire process.
Before shipment, coffee is sent to Budeca, Burundi’s largest dry mill. The coffee is milled and then hand sorted by a team of hand-pickers who look closely at every single bean to ensure zero defects. It takes a team of two hand-pickers a full day to look over a single bag. UV lighting is also used on the beans and any beans that glows—usually an indication of a defect—is removed.
The mill produces an average of 300 containers of 320 bags per year. Budeca is located in Burundi’s new capital city, Gitega. The city has a population of around 30,000 people. Since there are approximately 3,000 people working at the mill, mostly as hand pickers, this means that Budeca employs nearly 10% of the total population in Gitega for at least half the year (during the milling season). The same is true in the provinces of Ngozi and Kayanza, where Greenco and Bugestal are the first employers in the region during the coffee harvest season. This has an incalculable impact on a country like Burundi, with unemployment rates above 50%, especially in rural areas and among young people.