Socio-economic impact of rural farming structure in Rwanda: Case of KOPAKAMA1 coffee growing cooperative and coffee washing station, Rutsiro District, Western Province
Coffee is the main source of income of the household producers of this crop in Rwanda. It contributes significantly to the inflows of foreigner currencies to the national economy. Although it is grown on only 6.3% of the total cultivated areas, it is the main activity of 500.0002 coffee growers households at countrywide3. Since its introduction in the country in 1904, coffee has always been operated by individual producers4isolated in their villages. After the liberalization of the coffee sector in Rwanda in 1998, the quantity produced has steadily decreased and the quality deteriorated. This affects the price and income of coffee growers. To address this issue, the Government of Rwanda sensitized coffee growers countrywide to operate into cooperatives and set up coffee washing stations (CWS). The objective was to improve the quality and export fully washed coffee that is better sold on international markets. Coffee washing stations are then considered as mean for producing high quality of coffee, they are mainly run by cooperatives, which are structural elements in the rural areas. Through these structures, such us cooperatives and coffee washing stations in rural areas of Rwanda, jobs are created for coffee producers, loans are granted, farmers are motivated due to the increase of income, the market is guaranteed and the prices become attractive for the members. Thus the socio-economic welfare of producers is improved which reduce poverty among coffee growers households. This study focuses on the analysis of the impact of this structure on the socio-economic development of producers and the rural surrounding environment of Mushubati sector.
Keywords: Coffee, growers, Kopakama cooperative, coffee washing station (CWS), income, farming, socio-economic development.