Washing Station Profile: Buziraguhindwa

Buziraguhindwa3

Name: Buziraguhindwa
Owner: Ramadhan Salum
Manager: Silas Nimubona
Province: Kayanza
Commune: Muruta
Founding year: 2009
Elevation (masl): 1 950
Varietals: Bourbon, Jackson
Water source: Spring-fed
Production (tons): 370 (2012)
Number of delivering cherry suppliers: 2 588 (2012)
Soil: Hygro-Xéro-Ferralsols with Ferralic
Other crops grown: Bananas, beans, maize, potatoes, cassava
Average rainfall (mm): 1 945
Average farm size (ha): 0.08
Processing method: See below

About the Producers

CPC, founded by partners Ramadhan Salum and Charles Aime, is working to increase the level of visibility of Burundian coffee to buyers of high quality specialty coffee. Burundi’s washing stations, due to a long period of government control and resulting production of low-quality coffee, have only recently been sold to private companies. CPC is one of the first locally owned and managed of Burundi’s 130+ washing stations and their desire to produce some of the best coffee in the country is evidenced by their investments in equipment, close relationships with delivering cherry producers and attention to processing.

Cherries are delivered six hours or less after harvest and only ripe, mature cherries are considered and weighed for purchase by the washing station. Cherries are pulped using water channeled from the nearby Congo Nile mountain range and Kibira forest. Buziraguhindwa practices two kinds of fermentation: simple (18 hours in water) and double (12 hours in open air and then 18 hours soaking time under water). Coffee is then separated into four quality levels: A1, A3B, A3V, A4 – levels are determined by weight.

Before drying, coffee is sorted and coffee damaged through the pulping process is removed. Coffee then goes through a 1-2 day pre-drying process under shade in order to limit the bursting of parchment during the drying process. Coffee is then sun dried to 11.5% humidity on raised tables and is turned every 30 minutes or less, depending on the sun’s intensity. This process takes between 10 to 14 days.

One of CPC’s quality initiatives is management of coffee plant nurseries, which totals 60 000 young coffee plants. Burundi’s coffee plants in general are old (between 20-60 years) and CPC provides trees to delivering producers for free – they are allowed to take as many as they need.

Burundi Coffee: Context

Burundi is a landlocked country in Central Africa bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. The official languages are Kirundi and French, with pockets of Swahili being spoken mostly in Bujumbura (the capital city), along Lake Tanganyika. Hilly and mountainous, Burundi boasts ideal agroecology for coffee cultivation. The country’s economy is predominantly agricultural with more than 90% of the population dependent on subsistence agriculture. Economic growth depends very heavily on coffee and tea exports, which together account for 90% of foreign exchange earnings.

Coffee growing and production began during Belgian occupation in the early 1930s and from 1980 to 1993, Burundi invested heavily in the coffee subsector with the heavy assistance—both monetary and strategic—of the World Bank, which helped implement an ambitious program of coffee washing station construction and tree planting. During these years, the number of coffee shrubs increased from 90 million to over 220 million and 133 washing stations were built and strategically placed throughout the country. Currently, there are over 160 washing stations in Burundi.

Coffee is Burundi’s biggest export revenue earner, making up as high as 80% of earnings. There are 600 000 families, close to 40% of the population, involved in the coffee subsector. Until 2007, the coffee subsector was controlled by the state, with the result that all facilities (i.e. washing stations and dry mills) and exporting were coordinated by the government. Coffee has historically been of low quality, subsequently receiving low prices dependent on commodities exchange markets. However, in 2006, the government started liberalizing the subsector and began allowing privatization of coffee washing stations (CWS) and dry mills leading to a continuing expansion of producer access into high quality specialty markets.

The hilly topography of Burundi has made for how the country is organized politically and infrastructurally. A colline in Burundi (i.e. hill) is like a borough or rural neighbourhood. Ultimately, a certain number of collines constitute a commune (i.e. county). The farmers that live on one colline are likely to deliver their coffee cherries to the same washing station that is located within accessible distance from their farms. The different lots represent day-lots from these wet mills.

The climate in Burundi is predominantly equatorial, but the many hilly and mountainous regions, where coffee is grown, enjoy a moderate climate. Average temperatures vary from 17 to 23C and there are distinct wet and dry seasons: the dry seasons run from June to August and again from December to January; the wet seasons are February to May and September to November. These factors, combined with the country’s agroecology, combine for an ideal environment for coffee growing. Under these conditions, cherries can undergo ideal development due to stable and the relatively low temperatures on the plains. In addition, the distinct seasons allow for a proper blossoming of the plants and good drying conditions for the coffee beans (seeds). The main flowering period runs from October until November and there are two harvesting periods: the main harvest runs from February to March; the secondary harvest from April until May.

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