Back to School!

Posted by Richard Anstead on 19 October 2016

In July, along with a party of US based coffee roasters, I visited two coffee producer organisations on the shore of Lake Kivu, West Rwanda. Both groups, along with 18 other cooperatives from Rwanda and Burundi are part of a new 2 year programme with TradeMark East Africa | Growing Prosperity Through Trade. Twin and TMEA creating quality coffee » Twin which is focusing on improving coffee quality, supporting good agricultural practices gender empowerment and market access. These are four of the six key pillars in Twin’s development approach for small holder organisations.  Our Approach » Twin

As part of the visit to Kopakama (or Koperative y’abanzi ba Kawa ba Mabanza in Kinyarwanda, translating to the Agricultural Coffee Co-operative of Mabanza) we all had the chance to head back into education as we sat in the middle of a coffee farm experiencing the training delivered by a lead farmer at a ‘field school’. We sat in the midst of hundreds of coffee trees and learnt from lead farmers about preventing soil erosion, controlling pests, increasing production and intercropping their coffee successfully with banana production. As lead farmers they now meet monthly with other farmers in the area to pass on their knowledge.

Back to School 1

Our work in East Africa has been important for Twin for many years and with a strong strategic programme now established in the region we have recently opened a permanent office in Kigali.

We also attended a workshop at Kopakama for the delivery of certificates to the LEAN methodology training participants. The LEAN methodology was used within the TMEA funded project to improve practices at washing stations. The participants formed 4 groups and gave a tour of the Kopakama washing station showcasing the mini-projects they had designed and conducted for improving practices. The presentation showed the motivation and good work of the farmers, as well as a great ownership of the methodology. For instance, the group that had worked on the reception area had understood that one good practice would be to receive only red and ripe cherries from farmers. To sthat end they created a colour-coded sign at the reception area as guidance for the farmers and staff of the cooperative when the cherries are brought.

Back to school 2

Before we left Kigali we visited the Starbucks coffee lab and cupped 20 samples from the coffees grown by our producer partners. With the support of the qualified Q Graders in the party we conducted a formal tasting and awarded scores and certificates the following day at the official launch of the Twin/TMEA partnership at the Hotel Milles Des Collines in Kigali