Kibingo, Fully Washed, Burundi
Kibingo, Fully Washed, Burundi
Marmelade, plum, lemon, buttery
Process: Fully Washed
Producer: Kibingo washing station
Origin: Kayanza, Burundi
Elevation: 1900 masl
Kibingo washing station
The Kibingo central washing station is located in the commune of Kayanza in northern Burundi. The station itself lies at 1893 meters above sea level. The altitude of the farms in the neighbouring hills that supply the washing station varies from 1700 to 1900 meters above sea level. Kibingo services 3553 registered coffee growers, spread over 18 hills in the area. In 2016, all these producers together had 1 010 062 trees. That’s 284 trees on average per producer.
The washing station is equipped with 10 fermentation tanks, 2 soaking tanks and a drying field with 165 drying tables and 4 pre-drying tables. Kibingo can process 750 000kg of cherry per day.
At cherry intake, a picking team sorts the cherries on maturity. This is essential for a fine processing, with less damaged beans. The cherry skins are mechanically removed during pulping. Next, the sticky parchment will dry ferment for 12 hours. When fermentation is complete, the parchment goes down the washing and grading channel. Finally, the top quality coffee soaks for an additional 24 hours to remove any remaining mucilage before going to the pre-drying tables. Here, the second team of pickers checks the wet parchment to take out defect beans. After a couple of hours, the parchment is moved to the drying tables. Depending on the weather conditions, it will reach 12% moisture content in about two weeks.
Kibingo CWS has 3553 registered farmer members, spread over 18 collines or hills in Kayanza province. All producers registered at a Greenco washing station are organized in groups of 30 people, headed by a farm leader. This leader acts as a spokesman to facilitate communication and organization with the washing station.
In Burundi, wet mills can reach farmers in a ray of 3km. If the washing station is located too far away, producers will sell to middlemen, often at a disadvantage. To prevent this, Kibingo and other Greenco CWS have collection centres. These centres allow them to reach farmers at up to 9 kilometres distance from the wet mill. This is a huge benefit for the producer who doesn’t have to travel far with a heavy load of cherries. At the same time, shorter distances help to preserve the quality.
At the washing station, farmers can obtain organic fertilizer from reconverted coffee pulp. To promote farm renovation, producers can get low-cost, subsidized coffee seedlings at the washing station. Each station has its own nursery for this purpose.
Kayanza is one of Burundi’s regions with the best coffee growing reputation. Coffee farms lie in the highlands, where soils are rich and volcanic. But optimal growing conditions alone aren’t enough to produce a high-quality coffee. To achieve a top coffee, a skilled and dedicated washing station manager is essential. They oversee the implementation of good economic practice and farmer education and collaborate with the producers to ensure they have access to the necessary tools. They also help farmers determine and implement the practices best suited to the specific growing conditions of their plantations.
Greenco is a company that oversees and structures washing stations in Kayanza province of Burundi. It gives the washing stations and producers support all along the production chain. They started their work in 2015, and have dominated the Burundian Cup of Excellence competitions ever since. Currently, Greenco has 13 washing stations all located in Kayanza and Ngozi provinces in the north of Burundi. Greenco’s overall impact through these 13 CWS extends to over 40’000 coffee-producing households. The producers receive farm support from the Greenco CWS managers, who are all young engineers in agronomy.
Supporting the producing communities
Working with young graduates has proved to have various advantages. They can all work with computer systems. It seems like a detail for us, but this greatly simplifies the flow of information between the washing stations and Greenco. Also, they have a fresh and systematic approach to coffee production and processing, with up-to-date knowledge about farming practices. The agronomists received additional training from the ONG Kahawatu on best agricultural practices (BAP). Off-season, they provide agronomist assistance to the roughly 4000 farmers who deliver cherries to Greenco CWS to prepare for the next harvest.
Next to improving quality and productivity, Greenco strives to improve socio-economic and environmental conditions around the washing stations. All of their washing stations have UTZ and 4C certification. One of their focus points is building an efficient supply chain around the CWS. Greenco is buying 93% of its cherries directly from farmers via collection centres. This way, they improve farm-gate price to the producers.
Another socio-economic challenge Greenco addresses is Burundi’s high rate of youth unemployment. The national youth unemployment rate is almost 50%. At Greenco, young graduates receive a decent salary and benefits (house, motorbike, healthcare) as well as real career prospects.
Adding to the training on farming practices, Greenco organizes training for farmer groups on various social aspects. Coffee families learn about gender equality, financial planning, family planning, breastfeeding, etc.
On an environmental side, Greenco has equipped all washing stations with water treatment facilities and solar panels and batteries. The solar panels provide energy for computers, lighting and smartphones.