Rwanda, the country of 1,000 hills
These past two days have been incredible. On Saturday we visited four coffee farmer co-ops, traveling over the majestic mountains of Rwanda. Now I truly understand why they call it the country of one thousand hills. At the first co-op the farmers were very proud to share the work they have done with us. Our friends, Technoserve gave them the ability to purchase and install a new washing station or wet mill at 1/4 of the cost of the traditional wet mill. The added efficiency and environmental benefits are notable. Over the past year these farmers organized, this enabled them to improve their quality and sell at a better price. Together with Fair Trade executives we also were able to visit a Fair Trade co-op. After a hard year of low crop yields, they also have improved their practices to improve the yield and quality of their coffee.
Sunday was an exhilarating experience. With Howard, we visited a co-op of coffee farmers in a remote area of Rwanda. We sat down and had a meeting with 12 farmers who represented the 1800 farmers of the co-op. We discussed issues that the farmers see as obstacles to their continued progress and talked about what we could do collectively to provide solutions. It was very empowering for all of us, especially the farmers.