Rwanda Akagera Washed


Stone fruit, honey, black tea

Characteristics: Sweet, tea-like

Farm: Akagera washing station

Region: Nyamasheke, Wstern Province

Elevation: 1535 - 2100 m

Varietal: Red Bourbon

SCA score: 85

Processing: Washed

Importer: Sucafina

Farms around Akagera station deliver coffee from heights around and even above 2,000 meters above sea level. These high altitudes make the land particularly well suited for coffee cultivation. Most farms in the surrounding area cultivate coffee and tea, which also does best at high altitudes.

Despite its turbulent history, today Rwanda is one of the specialty coffee world’s darlings – for good reason! Modern Rwanda is considered one of the most stable countries in the region. Since 2003, its economy has grown by 7-8% per year and coffee production has played a key role in this economic growth. Coffee has also played a role in Rwanda's significant advancements towards gender equality. New initiatives that cater to women and focus on helping them equip themselves with the tools and knowledge for farming have been changing the way women view themselves and interact with the world around them.

“Farmers are motivated [to produce quality coffee] but their efforts are not well remunerated. Coffee prices are not meeting farmers’ expectations,” says Rusatira Emmanuel, Managing Director of Baho Coffee. This is why washing stations countrywide, including those owned by Baho Coffee, are striving to incentivize high quality coffee production with better prices and support for farmers seeking to improve the quality of their harvest. 

Farmers in Rwanda have small coffee plots, usually around 250 trees. Most coffee trees are intercropped with food crops like maize and potatoes. Despite their small size, for many, coffee remains the main cash crop and their biggest source of income throughout the year.

In the early 2000s the Rwandan government, with the input of international partners, identified coffee as a potentially key generator of much needed export revenue. To improve the quality of coffee, the government has incentivized the creation of new washing stations in coffee producing areas and has partnered with local stakeholders to make sure that farmers are the main beneficiaries.

As one measure to this end, the government supports washing stations by providing inputs. The stations, in turn, transport the inputs from government warehouses to the area so farmers can access them more easily. The station is also involved in training farmers how to use inputs properly.

As part of Rusatira’s dedication to coffee farmers, Akagera station, in addition to most of Baho’s stations, also organizes Farmer Field Schools (FFS). FFS are groups of 20-30 farmers who live and farm close to one another. The farmers elect a lead farmer who attends trainings at the station. The lead farmer returns to their area and teaches the group they lead using a centrally-located demonstration plot. Through the FFS, farmers learn about soil conservation, water protection, waste management and more.