We Nitrogen Flush all of our coffee when bagging for an inert shelf stable environment by locking freshness inside for up to 6 weeks prior to opening
Mill: Muganza Washing Station
Owner: Koakaka Farmers Cooperative
Region: Nyamagabe District, Southern Provinence
Varietal: Red Bourbon
Altitude: 1800 - 2000 masl
In the local Kinyarwanda language, Koakaka stands for the ‘Coffee Growers’ Cooperative of Karaba’. The cooperative was established in 2002 with the merger of 3 smaller co-operatives. The majority of Koakaka’s members are very small-scale producers who typically own less than a quarter of a hectare of land on which they cultivate an average of only 300 trees, alongside other subsistence food crops such as maize, bananas and beans. Koakaka now owns and operates three mills with this lot hailing from the Muganza Washing station in Nyamagabe District in Rwandas Southern Provinence.
This member-owned cooperative is managed by Safari Bonaventure, who has held this position since 2010. He is supported by Joie Claire Muraketete, who is the Head Agronomist and oversees quality control and production. They lead the cooperative with a simple mission in mind: To produce exceptional coffee, to consistently improve the welfare of their members and increase jobs in every region they operate as well as actively protecting the environment.
Koakaka focuses their efforts in Rwanda’s Southern Province, a region with ideal conditions for growing quality coffee: high elevations, consistent rainfall, and mineral-rich, fertile soil. Like most farmers in Rwanda, members grow coffee alongside other subsistence food crops such as maize, sorghum and beans. To encourage improved farming practices, the cooperative continuously provides its members with agricultural training and access to discounted fertilisers and organic pesticides. This strategy has worked. Many of the coffees produced by cooperative members have performed exceptionally well in Rwanda’s prestigious Cup of Excellence, and have been finalists in seven of the last ten competitions. In July 2016, the farmers of Koakaka’s Karambi washing station also won the RWASHOSCCO Coffee Excellence Award, taking home 1st place with a brilliant score of 90.3.
By becoming members of Koakaka, farmers are able to process their cherries centrally and combine their small, individual crop into volumes that are large enough for export, providing a substantial boost to their earning potential. To further improve on this, the cooperative built a dry mill in 2019, which has given members even more control over the quality of the coffee processed. The Koakaka Coffee Dry Mill is a significant milestone for the cooperative and a commendable investment that has helped create jobs among the local community of Nyamagabe District.
Cooperative members also benefit from a number of services, including financial support for school fees and health insurance at no cost. The cooperative provides fresh water to the communities it works with, and free access to Karambi washing station’s power grid to households in the surrounding area. Koakaka, which has been Fairtrade certified since 2004, also gives its members access to a credit fund for home loans and farming equipment at zero interest. Members and employees also receive a premium for their role in the cooperative, in the form of a second payment after the busy harvest period.
Like most cooperatives in Rwanda, Koakaka recognises the importance of protecting the environment as a way of ensuring the longevity of the local coffee industry. In 2017, the cooperative became UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certified, and in 2020 the Karambi washing station became certified Organic. Not only have these certifications added value to the coffees the cooperative produces, but they have also set an example of the type of practices all members should ideally follow.
Most farmers that contribute to Koakaka live near the Nyungwe rainforest, and the cooperative encourages its members to protect the region’s biodiversity, since it enriches the soil and provides coffee trees with natural pollinators. The cooperative also actively educates farmers on the benefits of intercropping, as it allows for edible crops and shade trees to be grown alongside coffee trees. Both initiatives result in higher yields for the cooperative’s members, lower the risk of food insecurity in farming communities, and importantly, are pivotal to the conservation of native flora and fauna.
Words, Photos & Sourced by Melbourne Coffee Merchants.
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