woman power with African roots
Rwanda / Tanzania
Marie Laetitia / Kooperative Bukoba
Ngoma Distrikt / Bukoba
Sake washing station/ Kooperative Bukoba
Bourbon, Arabica / Robusta
washed / natural
1450-2000 / 1200-1300 m.a.s.l.
Chocolate, caramel, sweet, medium body
IWCA / organic, Fairtrade
Rwanda is a global pioneer when it comes to equal rights for women. The genocide of the 1990s resulted in a gender distribution in the country of 70 percent women to 30 percent men, giving women increased responsibility for running the country. Be it in government, in leadership positions or as entrepreneurs in coffee cultivation, as in the case of Marie Laetitia Kayitesire. Marie founded the farm in 1999 in eastern Rwanda at Sake Lake. The sake farm has a washing station in the middle of the farm, which processes the coffees for over 2000 farmers in the region and prepares them for sale. In addition, the sake farm in its region acts as a training center for the farmers, making knowledge and infrastructure available to the people of the region efficiently. Marie is an active advocate for women in the coffee industry in her region and is a member of the board of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA). The guiding principle of the IWCA “Strong women = Strong coffee” is based on the conviction that reducing gender discrimination is a powerful lever for development work in a third world country.
“Study after study has confirmed that there is no development strategy more beneficial to society as a whole— women and men alike— than one which involves women as central players. No other policy is likely to raise economic productivity, lower infant and maternal mortality or improve nutrition and promote health. When women are fully involved, the benefits can be seen immediately: families are healthier; they are better fed; their income, savings and reinvestment go up. And what is true of families is true of communities and, eventually, whole countries.”
former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan [1938-2018]
Marie Laetitia’s promise of membership in the IWCA is fulfilled by hiring a majority of women on the farm. We are proud to support empowered and responsible women in a country that not long ago had to go through very dark times.
History of Tanzania Bukoba: how they grow coffee
The Bukoba region of Tanzania is known for growing high-quality Robusta coffee. Small farmers from the region pick the coffee cherries by hand, which significantly improves the quality of the green coffee. A few unripe or defective coffee cherries can significantly affect the taste in the cup. By hand-picking at the Bukoba cooperative, the number of unripe or defective beans is systematically reduced compared to mechanical harvesting.
The Bukoba Region is located in western Tanzania, between the border with Rwanda and the picturesque Lake Victoria, the second largest freshwater lake in the world. Similar to Rwanda, Tanzania is still suffering from the consequences of a genocide that took place in 1994. 30 to 40 percent of households are run by single mothers, which is also reflected in the coffee farms and field work. Our sustainability philosophy of providing farmers with a solid financial basis on which they can build by purchasing quality coffee has been established in the Bukoba region since around 2001. Previously, the small farmers in the region sold their Robusta beans exclusively on the world market and via the raw materials exchange, whereby they were only able to pay very low wages for themselves and their families. Since the region has focused more and more on specialty coffees, income has increased steadily, which can be explained by the quality bonus above the market price. As a result, the consumption of premium coffee has a direct impact on the quality of life of farmers in the country of origin, since in a country like Tanzania higher income is associated with more opportunities in terms of nutrition, health care, the installation of sanitation facilities or housing for one’s own family.
What is Robusta coffee?
Compared to the Arabica bean, Robusta beans (Canephora) grow in lower cultivation areas and, as the name suggests, are more resistant to temperature fluctuations, strong sunlight or insect infestation. Ultimately, altitude also affects how quickly the coffee cherries ripen: the deeper coffee is grown, the faster it ripens. Conversely, she also has less time to develop complex aromas. Because of this, the robusta bean has a controversial reputation in the premium coffee sector, especially since it offers less interesting aromatic substances, but can give a blend a rich crema or a powerful body. It should not be forgotten that climate change will make the cultivation of Arabica beans a challenge worldwide due to the greater sensitivity of the plant. Accordingly, the cultivation of robusta beans makes sense from a sustainability perspective and is also indispensable to a certain extent.