From the Field, New Arrivals

Monday, September 5, 2022

New Sourcing Policies in Burundi Make Great Quality Easier

Updated regulations in Burundi are ensuring that smallholders have a market for their cherry and are making it easier for us to source high-quality cherry from smallholders. “With these new changes, we have greater quantities and higher quality coffees available this year,” says Eddy Nkanagu, Managing Director of Greenco .

In 2021, new regulations prevented washing stations from establishing collection sites where they receive cherry from farmers who are further away from their station. These collection sites were located about 3 to 10 kilometers away from the station. “They ensure that most farmers didn’t have to travel more than 3 kilometers to deliver their cherry,” Eddy says. “Last year, those farmers weren’t served because they couldn’t reach a station. They were told to walk further and many decided not to.”

In other years, about 60 to 70% of coffee processed at washing stations comes from collection sites, so the elimination of collection sites led to a significant decrease in overall availability in Burundi. “When there aren’t collection sites, farmers are more likely to process their cherry as semi-washed, a lower quality processing method,” Eddy says. “While the regulators had intended to protect farmers from being cheated in terms of prices, they found that the new rules may have actually created more income loss in Burundi, due to lower quality coffee. This was in addition to a production that was lower than expected.

The reintroduction of collection sites is a great thing for farmers and the broader coffee industry in Burundi. “When they have a collection site that’s closer, they can focus on harvesting in their field rather than planning an expedition that’s kilometers and kilometers away. It also means that when additional payments come, it’ll benefit their region through local taxes,” Eddy says.

Sucafina Burundi and its partner Greenco pay the same price for cherry received at collection sites as at the washing station. “Whether their field is far or close to a washing station shouldn’t affect them. Making them walk 5 hours or lose on the price of their cherry isn’t fair,” Eddy says. “We cover the cost of transporting that cherry. It's a service that we’re happy to provide.” 

For Burundi as a whole, the collection sites mean there’s more value-addition since more farmers will deliver their cherry to stations, rather than home processing them. It also means there’s less risk that coffee will be smuggled out of the country, Eddy explains.

The reopening of collection sites is an excellent sign for exporters like Sucafina Burundi, Eddy says. “The exchanges that have happened with regulator have shown a willingness to open up, so we’re really confident that the following seasons will be even more competitive for us to operate in and will enable us to better serve our farming partners.”

Fresh crop coffee will begin shipping in September, now is an excellent time to pre-book your Burundi lots. Get in touch with your trader to sample and book now!