Muramba & Butihinda Washing Stations
MURAMBA & BUTIHINDA
|Altitude||1500 – 1800 masl|
|No. of farms||
2,400+ farmers delivering to Muramba and Butihinda washing stations; 80% of contributing farms are owned or managed by women
|Farm size||<1 hectare on average|
Rotheca Women’s Project Swiss Water Process (SWP) coffee is the result of the work of over 2,400 producers farming in Muyinga and Kirundo provinces who contribute to Muramba and Butihinda washing stations. Muramba and Butihinda are part of a network of seven wet mills owned and operated Angele Ciza, owner of Kahawa Link Company (Kalico).
Over 80% of the 2,400+ contributing farms are owned or managed by women. From the beginning, Angele and Kalico have been focused on empowering female producers. In addition to her focus on agronomic education and quality improvement, Kalico offer scholarships to pay for girls’ school fees and is pioneering new sustainability programs for farmers.
Angele also has her own 10-hectare coffee plantation in Northern Burundi where she employs over 100 women at her farm and on-site washing station. A believer in the power of education, Angele also pays the school fees for the children of her employees.
The microclimate of the hills that surround these washing stations create the prime conditions for coffee production. A multitude of rivers crisscross the region and the hills’ microclimate has plentiful rain, a high altitude of 1,800 meters above sea level and a great environment for the delicate and flavorful Bourbon varieties to flourish.
Angele knew that in order to produce the best quality coffee, she needed to forge partnerships with the farmers delivering to her stations. From the beginning, the washing stations focused on agricultural extension work with the producers that emphasized best practices for quality production. The stations offer advice to farmers on everything from establishing nurseries to picking only the ripest cherry. Kalico continues to work directly with contributing farmers to provide education on proper cherry selection.
As farmers continue to improve the quality of their cherry, Angele is focusing her investments on additional training, access to inputs, micro-credit and micro-insurance, enhancing environmental protections and strengthening social infrastructures.
/2/ HARVEST AND POST-HARVEST
Farmers selectively handpick and deliver cherry to the station each day. At intake, cherry is floated to remove any underripes and pulped. Pulped parchment is fermented for approximately 14 hours and washed in clean water.
Employees sort drying parchment before laying it on raised drying tables where it sundries for 10 to 14 days. Once dry, parchment is stored in the station’s clean, well-ventilated warehouse before being sent to the dry mill.
/3/ KIRUNDO PROVINCE
While Kayanza in northwestern Burundi is the most famous coffee-growing province in the country, Kirundo, in the northeast, is also well suited for coffee production. Most farms are situated at high altitudes between 1,400 and 1,700 meters above sea level.
Due to a lack of infrastructural or financial capacity, most farmers do not use any chemical inputs and most rootstock is older, leading to low average yields per hectare. However, thanks to the climate and geography, the province has potential to produce specialty coffees.
/4/ COFFEE IN BURUNDI
Burundi has long been overlooked in comparison to its neighboring East African specialty coffee producing powerhouses. However, Burundi season, for us, is one of the highlights of the annual coffee calendar. The country’s coffee is produced almost entirely by smallholder farmers, and much of this small-scale production is of exceptional quality. With its super sweet, clean and often floral coffees, Burundi, every year, is increasingly is putting itself on the specialty coffee map.
Coffee is of paramount importance to families and the country at large. Considering this, improving and expanding coffee infrastructure is not just a way to improve incomes, it is a way to revolutionize the earning potential of an entire nation.
Building washing stations and expanding agricultural extension work can be great ways to improve coffee quality. Washing stations are pivotal in improving cup profile standards and the global reputation of Burundian coffee.
Both state-owned and private actors drive Burundi’s coffee industry and play key roles as washing station management companies and exporters. State-owned companies are called Sogestals, short for “Sociétés de Gestions des Stations de Lavage” (Washing station management companies). Privately-owned companies can operate under a variety of different names.