Buhorwa is a washing station near Bukeye, Burundi. This is our fourth year featuring Buhorwa, and it remains emblematic of our approach to responsible, collaborative sourcing. Last year, we had the opportunity to visit Buhorwa with our importing partners, Crop to Cup.
Crop to Cup has been working with Buhorwa since 2009. In collaboration with the Burundi chapter of the International Womens’ Coffee Alliance as well as roasting partners like ourselves, Crop to Cup has been able to facilitate community-driven impact initiatives with varying degrees of success over the years. Projet Vache is one such initiative, with goals of diversifying farmer income through an array of agricultural investments and practices. New facilities and training programs were developed as the project took form. Since launching, two seedling nurseries and two compost production facilities have been built. Training programs for cooperative structure and compost management have been implemented, with educational materials offered in Kirundi and French. The initiative has many programs, but perhaps the most effective is the livestock program, which provides training in good agricultural practices with a leaning towards raising livestock. The goal is to encourage additional sources of income to support smallholder farmers during the off-season or when crops suffer from volatile growing conditions, which are particularly common in Burundi. This past season, in fact, represented a low-yielding harvest, one of the most challenging obstacles to true financial stability.
At first, Projet Vache was most certainly a learning experience, a dynamic project proving to itself how it could be most sustainably impactful. Many of their challenges lack intuitive solutions, but Crop to Cup’s prolonged engagement has formed and strengthened a sense of earnest trust from the producing communities that many aspiring partners fail to ever cultivate. As we continue to collaborate with Crop to Cup, the 600+ farmers directly contributing to this lot, and all others in this network, we hope that we all keep learning and delivering our desired impact.
Among the evolving points of emphasis highlighted on our visit, it was particularly resonant for two of the women leading our company to meet with some of this community’s women coffee producers. It is rare and inspiring for women in rural communities such as this one to see women in positions of leadership and agency, and a reminder of some of our core values as a women-led business. Now, almost a year later, we are so proud to represent their coffee once again. This year, we taste black tea, orange, and butterscotch in the cup.