FFA GO: Africa – July 22, 2011

Coffee Washing Stations Visit

By Teams A and B

Friday, our teams were very fortunate to be visiting coffee washing stations and processing plants together. I speak for both teams in saying that we will definitely be thinking of the extensive process needed for coffee the next time we order a cup of Jo. Coffee beans are located inside a grape sized fruit (called cherries).

The cherries must be crushed to remove the coffee beans, the beans are then washed, soaked, and dried several times. Along the way, the beans are sorted into 3 different grades, that each carry a different price. Only the top A grade is exported to America. We were surprised to learn that US regulations prohibit companies from roasting the coffee beans in Rwanda, so the beans must be roasted in America. If the cooperative could roast the beans in Rwanda, they would be able to capture a larger share of the end value of the product.

The coffee washing stations and processing plants operate as a cooperative, which helps deliver the best price possible to the Rwandan farmers. There are about 1300 members of this particular regional cooperative (900 men and 400 women farmers). The cooperative also only hires member farmers to work during the processing season (mostly December-January), another benefit of being a member of the cooperative.

Later in the afternoon, we visited a Rwandan History Museum, which used to be the home of the King. We learned many aspects of Rwandan history, including growth in gender equality, expansion over time, and the Belgium Colonial Period (early 1900’s to 1960). Interesting fact: the shortest Rwandan King was 2 meters and 17 centimeters tall (approximately 7 feet)!

Today (Saturday) we are headed to Akagera National Park, to experience some of the notable African wildlife in a savannah setting. Stay tuned for some amazing wildlife pictures.

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