Rwanda has once again caught the fancy of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, being one of the three countries going to receive a $46.9 million grant from that foundation, aimed at improving not only the quality of coffee produced in Rwanda, but also increasing production. The other two countries are Kenya and Tanzania.
Involved in many works of charity and development of poor communities all over the world, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has contributed to an Aids project running in Rwanda, and this coffee fund is just another of the great efforts of this foundation to improve livelihoods for the person in the rural setting.
To be sure, coffee is one of the leading exports of Rwanda, and all efforts to boost its production are direct efforts to put money directly into the hands of the rural population who are the primary producers. This is not enough. Coffee processing has a lot of labour demands before the final export stages, so this also means that more people will get employment in the wet factories that will be built to support the coffee production. More coffee also means more pickers, sorters – the list of potential employees just gets longer with the prospect.
As we thank the Foundation for its continued support to Rwanda, we have to urge the population to fully use these funds to make their lives better through active engagement of the environment to wrest from it the required livelihood. According to an official working with the chosen public relations firm Technoserve, one of the reasons Rwanda was chosen was because of its topography. As it has been said many times, Rwandans have to learn to turn their supposed disadvantaged hilly topography to advantage.
Thus an opportunity has been presented to us to exploit these hills that are ostensibly good for Arabica coffee growing, and attack them to force them produce, with guidance from the authorities, as indiscriminate agricultural activities might also trigger land slides and increase soil erosion from hitherto safe areas.