Our new Rwandan Gishwati Cloud Forest Coffee has landed
Last November, we visited our organic growers near the Rwanda/ Congo border some 60km from the biodiversity hotspot that is Virunga Park. It is here that we are hoping to support farmers with our next cloud forest coffee. It was a rare treat to be visiting the country during the Tour de Rwanda, a 3 day bike race event bringing the crowds out to the street from Kigali to Gisenyi. It was amongst all this excitement that we arrived in Gysenyi to visit our new coffee suppliers at the COOPAC cooperative, who are working with some 700 organic farmers around this border area to produce some outstanding coffee. Close your eyes and imagine caramel sweetness with citrus highlights! Here we met Serafina Mukmutara and Kayitesi Dancille, who have been planting maesopsis, gravilea and pai pai. They’re incredibly forward thinking and use the trees for shade, fuel and construction timber. It was an impressive set up, with the field technicians Innocent Benimana and Jean d’Amour Tuyiragize supporting farmers through training on sustainable agricultural practices, planting, pruning, mulching, fertilizing, harvesting, picking and soil enrichment. They showed us around the local nurseries, which provide both coffee trees and shade trees such as maesopsis, pai pai, alnus, caliandra, leucaenae, tephrosia and gravillea for agroforestry activities. The nurseries were partly funded through a GIZ development project and are now provided free of charge. However, much remains to be done… This is not yet a carbon registered project and we have been talking to the NGOs about how we might help raise some funds to support a payment for ecosystem services initiative for reforestation and conservation. But times are tight and this could take time… The set up costs for the carbon projects are around £30,000 and we need to secure a big order to drive volume, to help us create a solid fundraising mechanism. In the meantime, we are keeping things in the neighbourhood by offsetting the Rwandan coffee carbon footprint with the carbon from the Ugandan farmers. So it’s all in the family!