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Catching up with Kinini

It’s been a while since we visited our friends at Kinini, the Rwandan washing station we have been working with for the last couple of years. Jacquie and Malcolm have been great at supporting us at a number of events and trips to your roasteries, and at times there has been so much going on it’s easy to lose sight of some parts of the whole. Here we look a little more holistically at Kinini, and bring you up to date with what’s going on.

10% community support built in

One of the really important parts to Kinini that often gets lost in the talk of quality, innovation and progression is that of A New Beginning Rwanda, a charity that was the reason for the washing station in the first place.

12 years ago, the charity was established to assist Rwandan citizens in the area, predominantly made up of widows and orphans displaced by the genocide from 1994, resettled by the government in an uncultivated savannah. A school and health post were created as step one to provide education and access to basic medical care and raise the standard of living. This would also speed the pace of the economic development to the point of self-sufficiency and self-governance within five years.

Part of the step up offered involved looking at income streams, and when a plot of land became available that was rumoured to be ideal for coffee growing, the idea for Kinini took hold. Since then 10% of the price that we as importers pay for the coffee has gone to A New Beginning Rwanda and will continue to do so as part of the business model.

With long term commitments to build and empower the communities in both Rusiga, where the 825+ farmers have been encouraged and helped to form cooperatives, and Musenyi, through the school, community centre, and health post, we spoke with Malcolm to bring us up to date with how things are going.

(Left) Break time at the school in Musenyi. (Right) Cherry checking at a community collection point,

Health post and school buildings

Malcolm told us, “Over the past three years DRW have contributed through our profits to build 3 more classrooms fully stocked out to start the new term after Covid in January 2021 ….the school as all others is closed until then. We now have 8 new classrooms built over the past 5 years. This will be enough to keep our Infant/Primary school helping 400 pupils who would not have had any education or would have had to walk 15 miles to the nearest school if we couldn`t help.”

The sad news in February of the deaths of Charity Chairman John York and their biggest sponsor Peter Chotai have caused fund raising problems.

“It is always a challenge to have enough medical supplies for our patients but this year is worse than any other with our resources very low and the prospect of no fund raising this year is most daunting, so any contributions are very much appreciated.”

The 10% donation from Kinini this year has been used to renovate the health post, which has not seen substantial work since 2009. It is not only helping the local community but now also the army training camp, and serves over 25,000 people. This has not come without its own challenges, of course. The demand has led to the need to convert the old community centre and school building into a hospital. This is badly needed in the area but cannot go ahead until enough money is secured to at least renovate the building and to then start specific clinics in each room.

If you are one of the roasters that have bought Kinini coffee through us, then you too have contributed to this work that is being done. Thank you.

People seated outside the health post, and the new school buildings in Musenyi, Rwanda 

The coffee washing station in Rusiga

The start of Kinini involved the purchase of over 500,000 coffee seedlings, reinforcing and creation of infrastructure and a lot of training and advice, let alone the building of the washing centre and we have really seen the results from the hard work bear fruit, but what about the future?

Kinini were awarded a cheque from our Full Circle event to help build roasting facilities at the washing station, giving more immediate results rather than travelling to the NAEB facilities in Kigali. But progress does not stop there.

Says Malcolm, “We have just added Patrick to our team who will complete his Q Grader course very soon. He speaks very good English and can be our middle man on all our new and original projects, including all IT, implementing WeatherSafe technology Coffee Lab, Worm Technology, Organic and Fair-Trade Certification.”

Text crop alerts

Weather safe are another aspect that sometimes gets overlooked in the discussion. A company that provides hyper local weather information, measures leaf shine and can issue warnings on pest and disease presence in the field, can really bring benefit to a topography like Rusiga where interlocking hills provide a ruffled landscape that is not always the easiest to get around quickly.

“The farmers took time to get on board but now realise that the information is important and that the guidance gives them better quality and higher quantities of cherries, and therefore more income.”

By sending texts to the farmers to alert them in real time to actions required in the field, this allows issues to be identified and resolved or isolated quickly, in turn protecting the quality of the cooperative lot.

 (Left) A farmer posing by one of the seedling beds, and (Right) Patrick inspecting the new worm composter  

Seedling Farm

Kinini are also expanding their seedling farm to having satellites in three or four other areas so the farmers grow their own seedlings under Kinini’s supervision. This allows the farmers to be included right from the beginning therefore making them feel always a part of the team.

As you’d expect through close community involvement and time, the expertise in quality control is growing in all areas, from the planting of seedlings through to the processing and export. We have seen this branching out from the excellent fully washed process (short dry fermentation, wet fermentation, washing and soaking) into natural processing and soon, honey.

Climate change

Last year saw the introduction of a ‘Spring’ and ‘Autumn’ harvest, in recognition of the lengthening harvest period that has been brought on by the sheer altitude and weather changes from climate change. Malcolm notes the harvest this year will stretch from the first week in February to the last week in November.

“Climate change has affected the harvest by giving us an early dry season therefore slowing the cherries growth.”

He’s particularly happy with the quality of the naturals, especially as it is only the second year of doing them. For those of you lucky enough to have already tried them too, you know how true this is!