(Kinyarwanda: Ikawa ya Maraba
; French: Café de Maraba
) is a Fairtrade coffee produced in the Maraba area of southern Rwanda. About 2,000 smallholder farmers grow the coffee plants under the Abahuzamugambi cooperative, founded in 1999. Since 2000, the cooperative has been supported by the National University of Rwanda (NUR) and the Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages (PEARL). The cooperative, which includes many growers who lost family members in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, has improved coffee quality and penetrated the speciality market. Farmers' revenues have increased, allowing for livestock investments, affordable medical insurance, and improved education.Maraba's coffee plants are the Bourbon variety of the Coffea arabica
species and are grown on fertile volcanic soils on high-altitude hills. The fruit is handpicked, mostly during the rainy season between March and May, and brought to a washing station in Maraba where the coffee beans are extracted and dried. At several stages, the beans are sorted according to quality. The farmers receive credits based on the amount and quality they provide.The beans are sold to various roasting companies, with the highest quality beans going to Union Coffee Roasters of the United Kingdom and Community Coffee of the United States. Rwanda Specialty Coffee Roasters buys from Maraba and sells to the domestic market. Maraba coffee is also brewed into an award-winning beer.
International acceptance :--PEARL brought a speciality coffee expert to Rwanda, who put them in touch with a seller, Louisiana-based Community Coffee, to help market Maraba. They sent samples to Louisiana and in June 2002 a representative from Community visited Maraba. Rwandan president Paul Kagame was also present, as the government placed great importance on the project. Community purchased an 18,000kilogram (40,000lb) container of Maraba beans at the above-average rate of US$3 per kilogram. The beans were transported to Louisiana, where they were roasted and blended into one of the company's gourmet coffees.
This was the first direct contract between an American roaster and an African coffee cooperative.Comic Relief also took an interest in Maraba. Their 2001 Red Nose Day campaign had brought in ¢55 million for projects in the UK and Africa, some of which they pledged to the Association des Veuves du Genocide (AVEGA), an association of widows of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. The charity discovered that many of the Maraba smallholders were also members of AVEGA and could thus provide funding and support. They contacted Union Coffee Roasters (UCR), a British roasting company, whose representatives visited Maraba in 2002 with officials from the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO). This group inspected the Maraba site and granted certification, making Maraba coffee the first Rwandan cooperative to gain Fairtrade status. UCR described the coffee as containing "sparkling citrus flavours complemented by deep, sweet chocolate notes" and bought all the remaining produce from the 2002 harvest.
sold the product in all 350 of its stores in the run up to that year's Red Nose Day. In 2003, the Abahuzamugambi Cooperative made US$35,000 in net profits. Of this, 70% was divided among the farmers at US$0.75 per kilogram provided, an amount more than three times that paid to other coffee growers in Rwanda and sufficient to pay for health care and education services which were not previously affordable. The remaining 30% was invested back into the cooperative and spent on buying calcium carbonate,an agricultural lime used to reduce acidity in the soil caused by run off of minerals during rainfall.