Rwandan coffee farmers to gain from Gates’ grant

KIGALI - Rwandan coffee growers are set to benefit from the $46.9 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
BENEFICIARIES: Workers sort coffee berries in a washing plant in the Northern Province. (File photo)
BENEFICIARIES: Workers sort coffee berries in a washing plant in the Northern Province. (File photo)

KIGALI - Rwandan coffee growers are set to benefit from the $46.9 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The grant is aimed at improving the quality of their coffee production. The 4-year-grant is part of the $306million agricultural development fund that was announced yesterday by Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum currently underway in the Swiss city of Davos.
Rwanda is one of the three African countries that will benefit from the grant.

Others are Kenya and Tanzania.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will work with TechnoServe, a development organisation to help small scale coffee farmers surviving on the one-dollar per-day threshold increase their incomes.

“If we are serious about ending extreme hunger and poverty around the world, we must be serious about transforming agriculture for small farmers, most of whom being women,” Gates, who is also the chairman of Microsoft, told the Forum yesterday.

According to Martin Rubagumya of Arcay Communications, which deals with the public relations for TechnoServe, Rwanda was chosen because of her topography.

He said that Rwanda being hilly makes it suitable for highland Arabic premium coffee hence benefiting from the grant.

According to a release from TechnoServe, the package nearly doubles the foundation’s investment in agriculture since its agriculture initiative was launched in 2006.

The release says that TechnoServe will work with small scale farmers in the three countries to improve the quality of coffee and interact with the marketplace to help them purchase and install new wet mills or mechanical processing units for their coffee.
The grant to the Rwandan coffee industry comes as a supplement to the one made late last year by Starbucks an American coffee company which offered to establish a coffee farmers’ support centre in Rwanda.
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