Women coffee farmers have said the Nestlé- Zoégas program not only increased the number of female coffee growers, thus increasing exports both in quality and quantity.
Nestlé-Zoégas and Sucafina’s second phase of the Nescafé Plan-Coffee by women program was launched last year and is implemented by the Kahawatu Foundation, with objectives of increasing women’s participation.
In Rwanda, Coffee farming is normally male dominated. However, the women integration has had a positive impact on the household financial management and the livelihood of the family among 2,828 women coffee growers from five Coffee Washing Stations (CWS) who have benefited from the program.
Dorothe Uwimbabazi a coffee farmer from Nyamyumba, is one of those who benefited from Nestlé- Zoégas program in the last two consecutive years (2018 – 2019). Uwimbabazi said that her farm productivity improved with about 17% in 2019 compared to the 2018 production.
“This is a result of the adoption of the training on good agricultural practices and the technical assistance that Kahawatu has provided as part of the Nescafé Plan – Coffee By Women program,” Uwimbabazi said.
The Nestlé- Zoégas program targets to empower more than 3,000 women over a three year duration from 2019. It has seen Nestlé and its partners deploy Agronomists to the 5 CWS of Rwacof namely Musasa, Mushonyi, Nyamyumba, Rwinyoni, and Ngororero, to offer agricultural extension services, establish coffee demonstration plots for teaching purposes, and teach the farmers how to undertake coffee farming as a family business.
The farmers have also received trainings on group dynamics and leadership, nutrition and food security, primary healthcare and hygiene and sanitation.
According to Nestle, women play a significant role in coffee farming activities, as well as their critical contribution to families and communities, but they frequently do not have the same opportunities to receive training or to take on leading organizational roles.
The project supports gender equality and women empowerment with a tailored program to increase the household incomes, strengthen financial management, and develop communication and influencing skills, helping some of them to assume leading community roles.
“As a result of the trainings we have undertaken, we have seen an increase in the representation of women and youth in the producer organizations formed in the five coffee washing stations,” said Hans Nilsson, Marketing Manager Zoégas (Nestlé).
“Currently the leadership structure of the producer organizations has changed to include a lead farmer, women and youth representatives,” Nilsson said.
“We are also seeing an increasing number of women owning coffee farms and vying for leadership positions in the coffee washing stations.”
Statistics of the National Agricultural Exports Board (NAEB) show that Rwanda’s coffee export revenues increased to more than $ 69 million in 2018 from around $ 64 million the previous year.