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Coffee in Burundi

Project summary  - Burundi Coffee

Burundi is the world's fourth poorest country. In the past year, ITL's work with coffee farmers, farmers' cooperatives and the cooperatives' consortium COCOCA, has significantly improved the lives of female and male small-scale coffee producers. We have seen:

  • 6 of the 18 cooperatives win awards for excellence, for the quality of their coffee
  • 6 new international buyers enter into a relationship with the consortium

These results indicate the potential of Burundi's coffee market to offer Burundi's population improved, sustainable livelihoods.

Burundi Coffee Opportunity
ITL's approach

Smallholder farmers, who make up most of the country’s coffee sector, are often isolated. They lack the capacity to produce enough – or enough high-quality – coffee to earn a living. Farmers miss out on opportunities to make more profit from their crop because they sell to a middle man at the coffee washing station (one of the earliest stages in the value chain).

Through the formation of cooperatives, the project has enabled farmers to come together and improve the quality and quantity of their coffee production. And the creation of COCOCA, a consortium of 17 of the cooperatives, is opening up access to international markets, giving farmers greater ownership of what they produce.

Burundi Coffee Project Approach

Outcome 1: The training not only improved the productivity of the farmers, but also the quality of their produce.

In the national Cup of Excellence 2016, six of the 13 cooperatives that took part won awards. Two of these were able to sell their coffee to an international buyer at $8.40 per kg, compared to an average market price of $3 -$4.

Outcome 2: 17 cooperatives have been able to develop strong business plans 

All the cooperatives were given training in financial literacy, business-plan writing, coaching, leadership and marketing. 

Outcome 3: 40 new buyers entered a business relationship with COCOCA

COCOCA’s coffee brand was promoted at international events by cooperative members trained in sales. Work was begun to secure sustainable-farming certification for five of the cooperatives, to make them more attractive to international buyers, and COCOCA staff were trained in forecasting and taking advantage of market trends. 

Outcome 4: Commercial banks reduced loan-interest rates to coffee producers by 6%

In the past year, 100 representatives from COCOCA worked alongside others in the Burundi coffee market to influence the national bank and the government to provide more favourable terms for smallholder farmers.

Learnings and their application in other projects

Women’s roles in farming have traditionally been consigned to the maintenance of the coffee plantation. Senior Programme Manager Christian Nibasumba describes the success of working with men (as well as women) in the gender inclusion process and of the learnings gained from working with multiple partners.