About 2,828 women coffee growers from five Coffee Washing Stations (CWS) in Rwanda have been empowered to manage their coffee farm as a business and implement good agriculture practices to improve productivity and thus farm economics. Coffee farming is normally male dominated however the women integration has a positive impact on the household financial management and the livelihood of the family.
These are the first results of the Nestlé-Zoégas and Sucafina’s second phase of the Nescafé Plan-Coffee by women program which was launched last year and is implemented by the Kahawatu Foundation. The Foundation is an agribusiness nonprofit organization, that supports small-scale coffee growers in Rwanda and neighboring countries with the objective to improve the livelihoods and strengthen the resilience of the households and this in a sustainable way.
Uwimbabazi Dorothe a coffee farmer from Nyamyumba, is one of the 2,828 women coffee farmers, who have benefited from Nestlé- Zoégas program “In the last two consecutive years, that is 2018 and 2019, my coffee production has increased exponentially,” said Uwimbabazi.
According to Uwimbabazi, her farm productivity improved with about 17% in 2019 vs 2018 production. This is a result of the adoption of the training on good agricultural practices and the technical assistance that Kahawatu has provided as part of the Nescafé Plan – Coffee By Women program.
The program which targets to empower more than 3,000 women over a three year duration from 2019, has seen Nestlé and its partners deploy Agronomists to the 5 western CWS of Rwacof namely Musasa, Mushonyi, Nyamyumba, Rwinyoni, and Ngororero, to offer agricultural extension services, establish coffee demonstration plots for teaching purposes, and teach the farmers how to undertake coffee farming as a family business.
The farmers have also received trainings on Group Dynamics and leadership, nutrition and food security, primary healthcare and hygiene and sanitation.
“As a result of the trainings we have undertaken, we have seen an increase in the representation of women and youth in the producer organizations formed in the five coffee washing stations,” said Hans Nilsson, Marketing Manager Zoégas (Nestlé).
“Currently the leadership structure of the producer organizations has changed to include a lead farmer, women representative and youth representative,” he continued.
“We are also seeing an increasing number of women owning their own coffee farms and vying for leadership positions in the coffee washing stations.”
Women play a significant role in coffee farming activities, as well as their critical contribution to families and communities, but they frequently do not have the same opportunities to receive training or to take on leading organizational roles. The project supports gender equality and women empowerment with a tailored program to increase the household incomes, strengthen financial management, and develop communication and influencing skills, helping some of them to assume leading community roles.
Coffee is still a major source of livelihood for thousands of Rwandese smallholder farmers and this partnership aims to have a higher inclusion of women and youth, improved economics of coffee farming, improved livelihood and living standards and thus improved household resilience.
As a result, farming is more attractive and provides a sustainable option for the next generation.