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    Our 2020 Project!

    Our 2020 Project!

    This year we have all faced some pretty serious challenges and none more-so than COVID-19. Every country has been impacted and its effects have and will continue to be felt for years to come.  So while we feel the challenges at home, what impact does the pandemic have in other countries?

    According to Beanscene article, “The risk posed by COVID-19 on Africa’s agricultural sector remains critical, given the sector accounts for 23%of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product, with food and agricultural exports averaging US$35 billion to US$40 billion annually.”(Building a post-COVID -19 resilience for Africa’s coffee sector, Beanscene Magazine 2020)

    Each year, Africa’s agricultural products (including coffee) are worth US $8 billion and it is believed the pandemic will not only impact the country’s earning capacity between US$100 million -$200 million, but also will have a direct impact on close to 7 million people’s jobs in the coffee sector.

    Going hand-in-hand with a pandemic, the other massive issue facing farmers is global warming and the unpredictable seasons which (specifically in Rwanda), caused massive flooding which saw crops we had invested in last year for the female farming co-operative of Cocagi totally destroyed.

    So to ensure the project we started with Cocagi, reaches its full potential, we are continuing to funding this community again this year. We will be purchasing them an additional 2 hectares of land, 8500 coffee seedlings, fertilizers for the full 6 hectares of land, other plants (sunflowers and bananas to replace the destroyed crops) and additional training.

    The group is supported by Rainforest Alliance and as part of that, they have learned the value in crop diversification which is why we have invested in the additional banana and sunflower crops. This will allow the women to sell product to the local markets and the training will teach them how to produce sunflower oil again for the domestic market. Not only does it take 3 years for coffee crops to establish itself, but it means that they are able to make money from the land immediately and diversify their risk should a crop be destroyed by weather again.

    We are committed to seeing this project reach its full potential for the group and the addition of more land again will assist them in growing their capacity to sell to international markets and earn more income for their community.

    Again, we are grateful to all our customers, returning and new ones, who support us. Because this project is all funded by YOU through your purchase. We have big ideas to do more and as we grow as a brand, we are excited by the prospect of being able to support more coffee growing communities around the world.

    Make sure you follow the progress by following us on Instagram and Facebook. Thank you to Rainforest Alliance for again supporting us with this project.

    World Coffee Day – 1 October. Make your coffee count!

    World Coffee Day – 1 October. Make your coffee count!

    This World Coffee Day, we are launching a new initiative to raise even more funds for the female farming community of Cocagi, Rwanda. We will be donating an addition 50c from every box of compatible capsules sold at all Coles Stores nationally (from our new Nespresso®* compatible Industrial Compostable & biodegradable range, as well as our Express®* and Caffitaly ®* range) directly to support and empower the female farmers of Cocagi Femme.

    We will also be running this program on line for the day as well and alongside the 50c from all compatible capsules sold via our online store, we will also donate $1 from all beans and ground coffee to the cause as well.

    Each year, our aim will be to grow this program, get more of our retailers on board and make this a big additional fundraising day for the community on top of our committed project funds.

    Our aim at St Remio has always been to change the conversation and to make consumers think about where their coffee is from and impact their coffee has on the lives of others. It is their livelihoods, it is funding the next generation and we need to ensure that not only do the farmers earn what they should for their coffee crops, but that we invest in their development and empower them in business so they have greater access and reach to international markets.

    We enjoy coffee anyway, so why not try St Remio today and allow your purchase to have a positive impact on this community! Thank you for your support!

    Click here to purchase your coffee directly from our online store

    Meet Jean Claude Bamporiki, Agronomist and Certification Manager for Cocagi

    Meet Jean Claude Bamporiki, Agronomist and Certification Manager for Cocagi

    Jean Claude was born in Congo and moved to Rwanda when he was 14 years old. His parents were originally from Rwanda, but they moved to Congo when they were 25 years old. Now, he is the Coffee Washing Station Manager, Agonomist and Certification Manager of Cocagi Coffee Cooperative in Rwanda. 

     

    • How long has the cooperative been UTZ certified?

    UTZ since 2019; RA since 2017

    • Are you part of any other programs?

    UTZ, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade. Working on achieving Organic Certification by 2020

    • Why become UTZ certified?

    Mainly because it would help us to get better access to markets, we want to sustain our coffee for the future. The certification program helps farmers to be trained in different topics, such as Good Agricultural Practices, coffee processing at the washing station, how to take care of the environment, working conditions, safety measures; and all kinds of management in general from the coffee plants to the coffee washing station.

    • What changes have you experienced from being UTZ Certified?

    We’ve experienced big changes! Now the farmers know how to treat their coffee plots in the right way. And they help their neighbours who’re not certified with being sustainable. We have learned how to harvest at the optimal time, to pick the right cherries, which improves the quality of the coffee. With this increased income we can send our children to school. We know how to manage waste and use manure to secure the house and the plot as well as for better soil management. We collect water and do not waste water

    For me the most important experience is that I am now better able to understand the environment, to manage the farm, to manage the institutions we have to deal with and to comply with the certification standards. Because all the certification standards have key elements that are the same, we are learning to comply with them and successfully implement them.

    I’m also applying what I learned in university in practice. I studied Agronomy at the Institut Supérieur Technique, Commercial Et Economique (ISTCE) in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Now I study Journalism online. I want to do more in the field of Advocacy. I want to do more for the people of Rwanda, I want to bring the problems our people face in our country to light and find solutions for them. For example, with many questions or problems people don’t know where to go – if the local government does something bad they don’t know who can help them. I want to help my people focus on agriculture to live well, improve their livelihoods.

    • What achievement are you most proud of and what is the next improvement you would like to achieve on your farm?

    We have better access to market. We have increased our knowledge than before we started with UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certification. We definitely see an increase in production!

    I have also learned how to better manage the certification programs, because this was the first time for our cooperative and for me to manage UTZ and RA. There still are some challenges so I want to be better prepared to manage these. And I want all our farmers to join, because currently only 843 out of 1114 farmers are certified.

    Regarding challenges: there are some Critical Criteria within the standard that some auditors don’t interpret the way I interpret them, which creates misunderstandings. For example, this year we needed to have a first aid kit and the Control Point (CP) indicates it should be at a central collection point, whereas the auditor thinks we have to buy a kit for every coffee production zone. We have now agreed that we don’t have to buy a first aid kit for every production zone.

    Another challenge is that our farmers are old, the average age is 45 and youth doesn’t want to be involved with coffee farming. Therefore, we founded COCAGI Youth: we have trained and sensitized them. We have done a lot of awareness raising for coffee farming and we have trained them in other skills related to coffee, such as cupping, barista skills, and roasting. Three of our COCAGI Youth members are now working for different companies.

     

    • Do you notice you have better access to markets?

    We really noticed better access to markets. Last year we sold one Rainforest Alliance certified container and we already have one buyer asking for two containers of UTZ.

    • How has your doing business changed after becoming part of the UTZ program?

    It has helped us how we manage and trace our coffee. We know the traceability system, which helps us to access the markets. Because we have some buyers who are looking for specific qualities, for example some want to buy above 86 points and some want below that, so now we have learned these traceability techniques to classify and trace the coffee, which helps us to get in touch with relevant and interested buyers who want UTZ or RAC coffee of a certain quality.

    Our farmers know how to harvest better and farmers at the coffee washing station have improved their processing techniques to avoid contamination and maintain quality. We are more aware of the importance of quality to buyers!

    • What do you do with the UTZ premium? Do you invest in your business?

    We use the premium as the second payment to the farmers when their coffee is sold; they receive a first payment when they bring their coffee to the washing station (microcredit). Also, we have set up the Girinka program with the premium: we buy cows for families which they can use for milk and manure production. Furthermore, we have been able to use the premium to pay health insurance to our members and set up education funds. Education up until secondary is free in Rwanda, however students still need to pay the lunch fees. So,  the Education Fund helps our farmers to purchase school materials such as books and uniforms. For students with exceptionally high marks we help to send them to the School of Excellence in Kigali.

    The premium also supports Cocagi Femme. It’s an initiative by and for our women, where we put an amount of money for credit and saving. They also use it for small projects such as live stocking of pigs.

    COCAGI Femme: 5 women initiated COCAGI Femme and we now have 292 women in the group. They buy their own land for them and with the new projects their financial status will improve. They have been able to send their children to university, of which some have already finished. The chairwoman Annemarie has two children who finished and two more have just stared university. The men are happy with this program and encourage the women to continue with this. They advise if necessary and follow their progress.

    • What are your plans for the future?

    We want to see the incomes of our farmers increasing. We want to continue UTZ and Rainforest Alliance training to improve our farming practices. We also hope to get more projects like St Remio and we’re always looking for more buyers! We would like to continue strengthen our partnership with UTZ and Rainforest Alliance and we want to build strong relationships with other partners for the future!