Sharing experiences between Burundian and Rwandan coffee farmers

Source: IWACU Burundi | 26 Sep 2014 | In Publi Reportage | Article written by Esperance Ndayikengurukiye (Kahawatu)

Exchanging experiences, sharing information as well as identifying opportunities and challenges were the main objectives of an “exchange visit” organized for Kahawatu beneficiaries in its neighboring country Rwanda, on September 16 and 17, 2014. 

Twenty coffee growers, including twelve men and eight women, an agronomist of the federation “Nkorerangukize” in Ngozi and two Kahawatu agronomists took part in this initiative. “Exchange visits are among the most efficient tools for local capacity building, as it is not just about exchanging ideas but rather about seeing concrete results. These visits can also serve as self-assessment tools for the farmers,” explains Philippe Nyandwi, agronomist for Kahawatu.

 

During their stay, the Burundian coffee farmers visited two coffee washing stations of Rwacof Ltd (processor and exporter of Rwandan coffee) in the East and Southern provinces of Rwanda. On these sites, the team was able to observe different innovative techniques, such as “vermicompost” which is the product or the process of composting using various worms. Another technique discussed was “compost heap”, the produce of organic manure without digging pits.

The exchanges between Rwandan and Burundian coffee farmers focused on different themes including coffee tree maintenance, extension services offered to growers, the level of adaption and implementation of Good Agricultural Practices, as well as the relationships between coffee growers and processing facilities.

The observation made by the growers supervised

by Kahawatu is that the level of maintenance of coffee plantations and the techniques taught are similar to those taught in Rwanda. Also, the results are largely positive. “We are pleased with the training and the supervision provided by the Kahawatu agronomists, because we are trained on the latest techniques used in the coffee sector” notes Monique Koko, technical leader of the coffee growers of “Mafu” hill, located in Tangara, in Ngozi province. “However”, she adds, “the effective application of these techniques takes a lot of effort on our part.”

Charles Ndayizeye from the Gashikanwa community believes that “once we will master all the techniques being taught, there is no doubt that we will see our lives improve.”

“Participating in this visit enabled me to develop and enrich my professional experience, it also allowed me to be in contact with Rwandan agronomists; we will continue to exchange about our activities,” says Gaston Hakizamana, agronomist of the Federation “Nkorerangukize”.

In terms of the relations between growers and the washing stations, Rwandese coffee farmers expressed their satisfaction with the services provided. “The managers of the processing facilities are involved in the supervision and the maintenance of our coffee trees. Besides the technical support they give us credit and provide social and organizational support”, reveals Sebinyenzi Félicien, Rwandan coffee farmer.

The coffee growers who participated in the visit plan to share the achievements with the members of their respective groups during “coffee tasting sessions” scheduled from September 22nd to October 3rd.

KAHAWATU Burundi introduces a modern technique on compost manure

Ensuring a close supervision by using technical leaders on each hill, applying a composting technique around partnering coffee washing stations; these are some of the first activities of KAHAWATU Burundi during these last two months in different regions of Ngozi, Gitega and Karusi.

After the launch of its activities in July 2013 in Ngozi, KAHAWATU Burundi organized growers in small groups of 20 to 30 producers to ensure an efficient supervision. These leaders have been chosen by the growers themselves and benefit from a technical and participative training on good agricultural practices. The lead farmers will then pass on the knowledge to the other farmers in their respective producer organisations.

Julia Janssen, director of KAHAWATU Burundi indicates that produce organic manure is very significant: “The majority of households live in poverty, producing organic fertilizer by use of composting methods is accessible to the majority of smallholder farmers once well organised.” She specifies that organic manure will have a double advantage: “It will be used not only in the coffee fields, but can also be applied for e.g. food crops to reduce food insecurity.”

One technique, several opportunities

A well appreciated method by the population. Usura Nkundwanabake, 45, leader of the hill Camugani indicates that before the training, she didn’t know how to properly prepare her composting and declared joyfully, thanking Philippe NYANDWI, agronomist of KAHAWATU, “producing fertilizer with local materials previously considered unnecessary, it’s unbelievable but true.” This view is reinforced by Charles Bigirindavyi, leader of the hill Gasekanya who sees several opportunities arising out of this newly acquired technique: “I intend to install multiple composting sides and develop an income-generating activity; my ambition is to buy some pigs, maybe some cows.”

Jean Prime KABUKUNDI and Philippe NYANDWI, both agronomists of KAHAWATU, explain that by using “plant materials,  banana trunks, decomposable pulps , ashes and animal manure, a compost of 8m x 3m produces around 5-7 tons of organic manure in 60 or 90 days”.

 

The Regulatory Authority of the coffee sector (ARFIC) is adding: “The method of producing organic fertilizer introduced by KAHAWATU Burundi allows, not only to increase organic manure, but also becomes less expensive than chemical fertilizers, “says Marius BUCUMI, technical director, visiting producers participating in KAHAWATU’s programme. He is asking KAHAWATU to continue to work with local administration and the existing extension service in teaching and applying this technology.

Renewing the old, unproductive coffee trees; next step for KAHAWATU

In order to address the problem of aging coffee trees, KAHAWATU is assisting farmers in producing seedlings in newly established coffee nurseries. So far, KAHAWATU is working with around 14,000 smallholder farmers in nine communes: Mutaho in the province of Gitega, Gitaramuka in Karusi, as well as Kiremba, Ruhororo, Nyamurenza, Mwumba, Ngozi and Gashikanwa in the province of Ngozi.

The aim of the KAHAWATU foundation is to improve the living conditions of farmers through increased productivity and quality of coffee. It supports the coffee sector in addressing its major challenges: low productivity and high level of cyclicity in production. These constraints are related to the decline in soil fertility, aging trees, and the lack of good agricultural practices.