From the Field, All the Rest

Monday, April 19, 2021

Get Your Hands Dirty This Earth Day!

Sucafina Rwanda (RWACOF), The Bug Picture and COPED are transforming coffee and food waste into an environmentally-friendly organic fertilizer. This fertilizer will help improve yields and coffee quality while also supporting more environmentally friendly and affordable livestock feed. Our (dirty) little secret? Bugs!

This Earth Day, we’re inviting you to get your hands dirty. From 19 April to 23 April, we’ll donate one bag of sustainably produced, bio-fertilizer to partner farmers in Rwanda for every bag of specialty coffee you purchase.* 

Why Fertilizer Matters

When it comes to improving yields and quality to increase incomes, coffee producers in Rwanda face an up-hill battle against nutrient-poor soil, older rootstock and a lack of inputs. Sucafina Rwanda’s new partnership with The Bug Picture and COPED (one of Rwanda’s largest municipal waste managers) is making affordable, environmentally-friendly fertilizer accessible to coffee producers and is helping to save on landfill space.

While chemical fertilizers can increase coffee yields, they have several drawbacks. Since they don’t help make soil healthier, farmers need to buy and reapply fertilizer each year. Additionally, chemical fertilizers are typically designed as a one-size-fits-all solution with just a few formulas sold to producers across the world. Rwandan soil is highly acidic and tends to have very little binding agent. Many commonly used fertilizers simply run off at the first rain. What is needed is a unique and cost-effective solution, specifically designed for Rwandan needs.

At the same time, a growing population in Rwanda is producing more waste and landfills are expanding, taking up otherwise arable land. Finding a solution that reduces the amount of waste ending up in landfills while further maximizing production on existing crop land is essential. That’s where our partnership with The Bug Picture and COPED comes in.

Bugs + Waste = Fertilizer!

Black soldier fly larvae spin waste into fertilizer gold. These little guys can consume large amounts of organic waste (including coffee pulp) very quickly. Our new facility is located in Bishenyi at one of COPED’s landfills. The landfill takes in up to 1.5 tons of organic waste daily, covering significant tracts of what would otherwise be arable land. With the new program, food waste is kept separate and, instead of adding to the landfill’s growing bulk, it’s mixed with coffee pulp from Rwacof’s Washing Stations, and treated with the larvae, which can transform it into nutrient-rich compost in as little as 10 days.

We expect production of around 11 tons of low-impact, high-yield biofertilizer per month through bug power. In addition to being cheaper and more environmentally friendly, this innovative bio-fertilizer is designed with the specific needs of Rwandan soils (and farmers) in mind. The formula we and our partners are currently producing is the result of comprehensive research and collaboration with organizations and local governments to find the ideal balance of the nutrients plants need – Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK for short).   We will continue experimenting with additional formulae and eventually, as we scale up, will offer several options for farmers, all tailored for their soil and climate.

This new fertilizer is better suited for Rwandan soils and an economically viable alternative to other widely used chemical fertilizers, which often cost $10-15USD per bag. Sucafina Rwanda is committed to distributing their new fertilizer at cost. Currently, it costs $5USD to produce one 25-kilogram bag. The average farmer needs 8 bags per year.

As an added benefit, the production process also addresses food insecurity and the environmental footprint of animal feed production. Once they’ve transformed waste into fertilizer, the black soldier fly larvae are then recycled into alternative protein that can be added to animal feed, replacing soy and fish protein additions. So in addition to helping coffee farmers, the project also reduces the environmental footprint of animal rearing and helps local livestock farmers, as well!

Spreading the Love (and Fertilizer)

Buy coffee, give dirt! To commemorate Earth Day and support our producing partners, we’re pledging to donate 1 bag of organic fertilizer to our producing partners for every bag of coffee purchased during the week of Earth Day (19 April to 23 April).  Terms & Conditions (as always) apply.

*Terms & Conditions

Please note that a portion of each donation will go back to project implementation, operations and expansion.

Asia Pacific -  Offer applies to all coffees delivered & invoiced in AU, NZ, HK for spot business. FCL business is excluded. Delivery must be scheduled for April/May. Clients are invited to match the donation, just talk to your trader!

Europe, Middle East, Africa - Offer applies to all Specialty & High Commercial (84+ SCA) coffees delivered from Antwerp, UK & Dubai. If you have a question about coffee eligibility, please ask your trader. Delivery must be scheduled for April/May. Clients are invited to match the donation, just talk to your trader!

North America - Offer applies to all LCL spot sales between April 19 to end of day April 23.