Friday, November 13, 2015

42. LTC Rwanda - Innovations in the Rwanda Coffee Supply Chain

Friday, Nov. 13, 2015
Serena Hotel, Kigali, Rwanda
Panel on "Innovations and Community Development in the Rwandan Coffee Supply Chain"
Sustainable Harvest's Christine Condo moderated this panel that truly kept me sitting on the edge of my seat throughout. My fingers could not type fast enough as each panel member described the innovations they have already brought to their operations and the new things they are planning to do.

Panel speakers were:
  • Anastase Minani, President of Dakunde Kawa, a cooperative in Gakenke district (North)
  • Jean Bosco Ngabonziza, President of Rusizi Specialty Coffee, Rusizi district (West)
  • Pascal Kalisa, KZ Noir, 8washing stations in Gakenke and other districts (West and North)
  • Agnes Nyinawumuntu, Twongere Umusaruro Coop in Kayonza district (East)
  • Asterie Mukangango, Nyampinga Cooperative in Nyruguru district (South)
  • Inyoung Anna Kim, LetSequoia, Co. based in Korea, investing in Rwanda and Congo
Highlights for me from each of the speakers presentations were as follows:
  • Agnes Nyinawumuntu - I appreciated her emphasis on the importance of training for her cooperative of women. The first training Sustainable Harvest gave them was in quality, now they will have training in organization building and management. To keep cooperative members motivated, the board decided to set a goal to give each member 2 new clothes per year. Every woman likes to have beautiful clothes! And a good sleep is important, too, so another goal is to improve their livelihoods by buying 156 double mattresses in the coming year.
  • Pascal  Kalisa of KZ Noir seemed unaware of how innovative and impressive his list of accomplishments sounded to a coffee supply chain researcher like me. He described their supply problem -  11% of their supplying producers bring their coffee directly to the washing stations. 89% do not bring their coffee, they go through middleman. So KZ Noir decided they needed to get to know these "farmers once removed" better. Their vision is to benefit the coffee growers so they have to do this. Among the things they did with their "Know Your Farmer" survey is they taught them how to count their trees. This way the farmers are less likely to claim to have 5000 trees when they only have 3000 trees. KZ taught the CWS managers to use the tablets so that they could conduct the survey with each of the farmers who deliver to their WS.
  • Jean Bosco Ngabonziza – Rusizi Specialty coffee, had a wonderful emphasis on developing trust and breaking down old barriers between people. He works with 400 farmers in the far West and he offers a lunch at midday for all the workers to sit together. When they have an event (which they do regularly) they emphasize over and over that all are invited and truly encourage all to come. "We are entrenching unity."

  • Inyoung Anna Kim - LetSequoia Coffee has invested $US 1 million in Rwanda and coffee so far. They have focused on management skills at the cooperative level. Then they connect the cooperatives to buyers, selling exportable green for $7.5 - $8/kilo (translates to $3.4 - $3.6/lb). They lead a train the trainer program in collaboration with NAEB which trained 26 people -- 13 of them passing. They have creative efforts with their partners such as the "golden chicken project," encouraging chicken raising and use of chicken manure. And my favorite -- they are organizing a COFFEE OLYMPICS in December. There will be competitions to see who can pick the best and who can roast the best. I'm excited about the contest to see who can pick the best! I'm sure there are lean practices in picking that today, only a few "frontline" coffee pickers know. With programs like "Coffee Olympics" we can highlight and encourage these best practices. Organizations and supply chains that embrace such 'lean at origin' practices, will outperform the others on quality, profit and worker empowerment.

  • Asterie Mukangango's (Nyamapinga Cooperative - 124 farmers) presentation was exciting because you could feel how excited and proud she was of her organization. It's even more exciting when you realize that before the start of the Relationship Coffee Institute program, this group of women was not organized as a cooperative at all. No had heard of them. Now they have a washing station, since 2014 every member has paid health insurance and Asterie told us her oganization's impressive goals:
  1. Look for new members
  2. Build a store house
  3. Divide into different cells to do outreach more effectively
  4. Gain more knowledge
  5. Help members have access to small amounts of credit
  • Anastasi (Isaac) Minani, Dukunde Kawa, North district. Anastasi shared a few of the accomplishments of his cooperative, which is in the Africa Great Lakes Coffee (AGLC) project sample set of 16 washing stations, and has been discussed earlier in this blog. They have:
    • They have 3 milling(dry) stations (3 of only a few outside of Kigali in the entire country), the biggest has 9 machines.
    • They give cows, health insurance, and pay school fees with no interest for members. 
    • The management board visited a banana plantation, learned much about best practices for quality control and is now and transferring that knowledge to coffee.
    • They have started a water harvesting project.

[author: Ruth Ann Church, Artisan Coffee Group]