Our first lot of fair trade, organic Rwandan coffee comes from COOPAC, a certified cooperative located near Lake Kivu on the steep slopes of volcanic mountains. COOPAC began with 110 farmers in April 2001, and currently has 8000 members contributing coffee from Ack, Ubuzima, Tuzamurane, Kopabm, Abakundakurima and Abanyamurava. With over 50 washing stations along the northern landscape of Lake Kivu, COOPAC exports 150 containers of Fair Trade certified coffee annually.
COOPAC is committed to environmental and social sustainability in addition to producing high quality coffee. Waste by-products from processing are used as fertilizer rather than being discarded into the lake, and shade trees are distributed to farmers to prevent soil erosion. COOPAC has assisted in the construction of a school, healthcare clinics, and roads and bridges in the community. The cooperative also has a program to distribute cows and goats to the most productive farmers and provides farmers with an agricultural adviser to teach the latest production methods.
By improving the quality of their coffee, many of Rwanda’s 500,000 coffee farmers have more than doubled their income. Coffee cooperatives are the keystone of improving quality. And by bringing villagers together to work toward a common economic goal the cooperatives have helped Rwandans with the monumental task of reconciliation, since genocide widows work side by side with women whose husbands are in jail for participating in the killing.
“Rwanda can be a paradise again, but it will take the love of the entire world…and that’s as it should be, for what happened in Rwanda happened to us all – humanity was wounded by the genocide.”
– Immacuée Ilibagiza, Rwandan author
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