Ruli

Apricot. Raisins. Brown Sugar.

Washing Station: Ruli
Cooperative: Dukunde Kawa
Region: Rushashi District, Northern Province
Country: Rwanda
Processing: Fully Washed
Elevation: 1,960 masl
Varietals: Red Bourbon
Sourced By: Melbourne Coffee Merchants

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Information on this coffee from MCM:

"This coffee comes from the Ruli washing station which is owned by the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative. The washing station is located in the rugged Northwest in the town of Musasa, at around 1,960 metres above sea level.

Ruli is Dukunde Kawa’s first and biggest washing station. Approximately 984 cooperative members deliver coffee cherries to this washing station, under the watchful eye of washing station manager Valens Ntezimana, who has managed the washing station since 2012. In 2016, 155 employees were employed by the washing station during the harvest.

Dukunde Kawa owns three washing stations (in addition to Ruli they own two smaller washing stations called Nkara and Mbilima) and have nearly 2,000 contributing members, of whom 20% are female farmers.

About The Dukunde Kawa Cooperative:


The Dukunde Kawa Cooperative was established in 2000. Three years later, it built its first washing station, Ruli, with the help of a development loan from the Rwandan government and the support of the USAID-funded Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages (PEARL) program. This transformational program was aimed at switching the focus of the Rwandan coffee sector from an historic emphasis on quantity to one of quality—and, in doing so, opened Rwanda up to the far higher-earning specialty coffee market. The program and its successor, Sustaining Partnerships to enhance Rural Enterprise and Agribusiness Development (SPREAD), have been invaluable in helping Rwanda’s small-scale coffee farmers rebuild their production in the wake of the devastating 1994 genocide and the 1990s world coffee crash.

All of Dukunde Kawa’s members are small-scale producers who typically own less than a quarter of a hectare of land each. They use this land to cultivate an average of 250–300 coffee trees, along with other subsistence food crops such as maize and beans. By selling their coffee to Dukunde Kawa, these farmers are able to process their cherries centrally and combine their harvests into quantities large enough for export. Dukunde Kawa provides its members with agronomy training, access to fertilisers and organic pesticides, and a host of other resources to support farms and families.

In order to become a member of Dukunde Kawa, a coffee farmer first submits a letter of interest, which is presented at the cooperative’s general assembly. The cooperative’s agronomist then visits the applicant’s farm, and the local cooperative members vote on the new membership. Once approved, the applicant pays a joining fee that, in turn, goes back into the cooperative.

Before the proliferation of cooperatives and washing stations in Rwanda, small farmers sold semi-processed cherries on to a middleman, and the market was dominated by a single exporter. This commodity-focused system—coupled with declining world prices in the 1990s—brought severe hardship to farmers, some of whom abandoned coffee entirely.

Today, it’s a different picture. Farmers who work with Dukunde Kawa have seen their income at least double, and the co-op produces outstanding lots of coffee year after year.

Dukunde Kawa has been recognised in the Rwandan Cup of Excellence competition in years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and most recently in the 2015 competition, winning 21st place. In addition to the great work that the cooperative does with quality improvement and assurance, it also operates various social programs that greatly contribute to the livelihoods of their members. School fees and medical insurance are provided along with training in quality and productivity in cultivation of coffee. Classrooms have recently been built at the Ruli washing station, along with a model farm that is used to demonstrate best practices in coffee farming.

Improvements At Dukunde Kawa:

Dukunde Kawa is a highly creative and dynamic cooperative. We have been working with this cooperative since 2008, and every time we visit, we’re impressed by the new investments and improvements implemented by the cooperative.

Recently, for example, the cooperative has invested in three new mechanical cherry sorters (which divide the ripe from underripe cherries prior to pulping the coffee)—one for each of its washing stations. These machines are expensive and difficult to get to the rural washing station so it’s a significant and commendable investment made by the cooperative. This kind of decision is a great example of how the Dukunde Kawa cooperative thinks about and appreciates the kind of long-term investment that is essential to produce high quality coffee.
 
In addition, at the Ruli washing station, the cooperative has also built a milk-refrigeration facility to help generate off-season income for farmers and their families. Farmers are able to supplement their income through the sales of milk, and the community benefits as it is able to access fresh milk and cheese which helps improve their diets. In addition, their cows produce very useful fertiliser for the coffee! The cooperative is now also raising funds for a pasteurisation machine, which will enable farmers to sell their milk in Kigali for higher prices.

Dukunde Kawa has also completed construction on its very own dry mill and warehouse, which is very rare for rural Rwanda—this sort of infrastructure is usually found only in the urban centre of Kigali. This (excitingly) gives them more control over the processing, and means even more micro-lot separation will be possible as well as more experimental lots in coming years. They are also in the process of constructing a cupping room where farmers will be trained to taste and critically evaluate their coffees.

‘Dukunde Kawa’ means ‘love coffee’ in Kinyarwanda (Rwanda’s official language), in reference to the power of coffee to improve the lives of those in rural communities. The cooperative works extremely hard to improve the lives of its members and their families, and to produce the best quality coffee possible. According to the co-op’s president, Anastase Minani, Dukunde Kawa’s goal is to be the very best cooperative in Rwanda.

More photos of Ruli washing station are available from MCM here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/52394413@N04/sets/72157658903766288"

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