A cooperative of 157 women and three men in Rukara sector, Kayonza District, has found financial success by embracing coffee growing instead of subsistence farming.
Previously, many members of the cooperative practiced subsistence farming, while others grew coffee in small clusters. In 2015, they decided to form a cooperative that could process and produce coffee from their farms.
Today, the cooperative has expanded and grows coffee on more than 10 hectares, producing over 40 tonnes of coffee every season. They supply their produce to clients both locally and internationally, including in France, the USA, and India.
According to Agnes Nyinawumuntu, the cooperative leader, the sales bring a dividend of approximately Rwf 100,000 to each member every year. Additionally, the cooperative enrolls each member in the Ejo Heza saving scheme, provides health insurance, and has upgraded their equipment, including a three-tonnes-per-hour pulping machine.
The cooperative produces high-quality coffee that was ranked as the 30th best out of 93 participants in a previous intercontinental competition for the most qualitative and sweet coffee.
One member, Scovia Nyirambarushimana, previously practiced subsistence farming and lived in a rented house. But after joining the cooperative four years ago, she and her family have managed to build a home worth Rwf 3 million and buy an extra piece of land at Rwf 300,000 to plant more coffee trees.
Other women working at the cooperative have also managed to develop economically, including Devotha Iratuzi, who joined the cooperative five years ago as a casual worker. She has managed to buy livestock, including three piglets and a goat, and plans to raise her contribution in the savings cluster in her village because she makes money on a daily basis from the cooperative.
Despite their accomplishments, the cooperative still faces challenges. The lack of power connections has hindered full capacity operations of their pulping machines and dryers. They use a generator to run the machines and are waiting for a response from the District to connect them to the on-grid scheme.
Kayonza District mayor John Bosco Nyemazi said that the cooperative, along with other 21,000 residents in the Rukara sector, will be connected to an on-grid scheme soon, which is in its final phases of discussion with the Rwanda Energy Group and the District. The project is in line with extending power connectivity to communities so that every resident is connected by 2024.
Currently, there are more than 900 hectares of cultivated coffee in Kayonza District, planted with 2.5 million coffee trees, and a production of 180,000 tonnes of coffee processed yearly in six coffee factories in the District.
Source: Emmanuel Nkangura for New Times