Sunday, February 10, 2019

Maceline and Mary Share Farmer Experiences

Feb. 10, 2019
During my visit to the Ruli Mountain washing station owned by Land of One Thousand Hills (LOTH), I had the delightful opportunity to interview two farmers. They belong to the approximate 1,200 farmers who deliver cherry to this washing station, which collected 451,000 Kg cherry in 2018.  Maceline (age 40) and Mary (age 36) were kind enough, through my interpreter, to accept an invitation from the washing station manager to be interviewed on the date of my visit. My objective was simply to provide a snapshot of "who is a farmer?" at one of LOTH's washing stations.

Maceline M:
Age: 40
# of Children: 3 - one of which was there for the interview. Charming "Mick."
# of coffee trees: 100 - shared ownership with husband. These trees were purchased in 2011.
Started coffee farming: 25 years ago with her family when she was a child.
% of income from coffee: 50%
Cherry price: In 2017 she remembers receiving 320 Rwf/Kg cherry.

She got the 100 seedlings she and her husband own from LOTH. Now coffee is a source of income and development for her family. They also grow beans, soya, maize, sweet potato, banana, casava and vegetables. She says she and her husband decide together about how to spend the income from coffee. Everyone in her family participates in delivering coffee cherry to the washing station.

Mary M:
Age 36
Children: 3
# of coffee trees: 840 total; 420 were planted 5 years ago; another 420 were planted just 3 years ago and so the very first harvest was 2018. She received the seedlings 3 years ago from a LOTH program.
Cherry price: in 2018 it was 280 Rwf/kg cherry. In 2017 it was 320.

They have found that good things come from coffee. Income to pay Mituel health insurance and solve other issues. The coffee money is a lot, but it spends quickly! Her family also grows bananas, casava, beans, vegetables and maize. She explained that is can be either her or her husband who comes to the washing station to receive the coffee payments. They hope that they can get 300 Rwf/kg cherry again this year. This would mean they earn a small profit.

We talked about the practices they are using on their coffee fields. When it came to the topic of mulch, they both complained about the high cost and the difficulty to access mulch. I asked them to help me understand what "expensive" means. They explained that first they often have to travel far away from the plot to find a place with mulch grasses growing. Then they are charged (for a swath of land they indicate with their hands) 80,000 rwf for the grass itself; 20,000 rwf for the labor (they do not do the cutting alone); 20,000 rwf to the land owner (service fee); and 20,000 rwf for transport. In total: 140,000 Rwf ($157) for that day's mulch delivery.