Monday, May 25, 2015

31. Field Notes 8: Five farmer interviews - similarities and differences

May 28, 2015 --
Learnings from five farmer interviews

My objective in interviews for this second week of our trip was to focus more on the choice between the ordinary (semi-washed) and the fully washed market. "What factors are driving farmers' decisions to choose one over the other?" This question is explored in my "income" module and the "market choices" module in my survey instrument.
                                          Kigufi Estate in Rubavu - an organic coffee washing station

These interviews took place in three districts - Huye in the South, Gakenke and Rubavu in the North.

Things we learned:
  • Cherry prices in "South" this year tended to be 200 - 210 Rwf/kg cherry. In the north, the price was higher: 280 Rwf/kg cherry for direct delivery to the washing station. I was not able to get a definitive answer as to why the price was higher, but this kind of difference (70 - 90 Rwf) is a common range of variation in cherry prices throughout the country. The supply and demand situation is slightly different in each region. All must pay the "floor" price set by a committee on a weekly basis. At the time I was there, the floor price was 170 Rwf/kg cherry.
  • Prices for parchment, or "ordinary coffee', was in the 700 - 750 Rwf/kg parchment range. This "ordinary" coffee is the traditional way coffee has always been processed in Rwanda up until about 2003 when the PEARL project first started building washing stations. The ordinary process is a crude "grindstone" effort done at home and results in very low grade parchment. Conversion factors are usually between 7:1 (poor) to 5:1 (good) in Rwanda. Using 6:1, a 750 Rwf/kg parchment price converts to 125 Rwf/kg cherry.  In other words, a farmer is probably much better off to sell their cherry to the WS (for 200 Rwf or more) and not even have the work of processing at home.
  • Cherry vs. parchment differences: one of the interesting differences is that the farmer does not get any record, apparently, when they sell their parchment, whereas they all seem to have a "fiche", or document, on which each sale of cherry to a washing station gets recorded, along with the weight and the price paid.

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