The Coffee + Cows project is a three-year collaboration with the international development charity, Send a Cow, aimed at developing effective and sustainable farming practices. Thanks to support with agricultural training, social inclusion awareness and the supply of livestock, families across Rwanda are seeing improvements in the long-term development of their farmland and increased opportunities to improve the welfare of their wider community.
A year since launch, over 3,000 people are now benefiting from higher crop yields and increased income thanks to new training in long-term, sustainable farming practices.
Starbucks £250,000 donation supports farmers and their families have access to a reliable food source, improved nutrition, and help them to lift themselves out of poverty. It will also provide over 2,300 hours of training that will teach essential skills in sanitation, gender equality, agronomy, sustainable farming practices and entrepreneurship. Families will also benefit from livestock (cows, goats, chickens), tools, fruit trees and seeds.
Meet some of the families who are benefitting from the Coffee + Cows project.
Genevieve survived the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which claimed the lives of up to one million people. 24 years later she is still haunted by the memories of bloodshed and struggles to care for her three children, Venuste (22), Jean Bosco (18) and Grace (16).
Tending to a small plot of land, Genevieve’s crop yield was low due to her lack of farming knowledge; the crops she grew were barely enough to feed her family. Determined to improve her children’s lives, she joined a local Send a Cow group and things quickly began to change.
Genevieve says: ‘‘I started to apply my training and used my land to grow different types of vegetables, which we eat on a daily basis. I can now provide two meals a day for my family. I am also earning more income from selling the extra vegetables.’’
Genevieve also has big plans to improve her coffee production. She wants to use the techniques she has learned from Send a Cow like mulching, enriching the soil with manure and planting additional crops, to increase the yield from her 30 coffee trees.
Joining a Send a Cow group has also brought an end to the years of isolation that Genevieve suffered. She says: ‘‘This project has not only given me valuable training, but it has also brought me new relatives and friends. These days people call me ‘Mamma Send a Cow’.”
Donatha Mukamugema and Emmanuel Rurangwa
Donatha and her husband, Emmanuel, rely on coffee growing. It’s their biggest source of income, helping to feed their six children and pay school fees.
Last season was a difficult one for their coffee crop, and this heavily impacted their overall harvest—now they are working with Send a Cow to improve their crop yields.
Donatha says: “Coffee is one of the crops that brings a farmer a good income. I have 150 trees, but they are very old, and it is time they are replaced”.
For three months of the year, the family eat just one meal a day of sweet potatoes and beans. Since joining the programme they have already started to see changes, with Donatha now growing onions, sweet potatoes, beans, soya, cucumbers, carrots and beetroot to feed the family, and selling the surplus at the market.
Donatha and Emmanuel say they are working better as a team since starting the training, and meeting people in the community who they can turn to for support during challenging times. With newfound confidence and skills, the couple believe that they can transform their lives and create a better future for their children.
Jean-Baptiste Nsabimama and Dina Murekatete
Finding work and feeding their children is a constant struggle for husband and wife Dina and Jean-Baptiste. They live in the Nyanza District of Rwanda with three children, Daniel (12), Dan (10) and Nadine (2).
If he is lucky, Jean-Baptiste will find work labouring on someone else’s farm, for which he earns just one euro per day. The couple save everything they can to pay school fees – but often the boys will go to school on empty stomachs.
Jean-Baptiste and Dina try their best to grow food on their small plot of land, but disease has destroyed much of their crops. Vegetables and meat are luxuries; the family mostly survives on beans and flour which they have to buy.
Jean-Baptiste and Dina recently joined a Send a Cow project. They will start to learn vital farming skills that will help them grow their own food and earn an income. Dina says, “I hope to acquire the skills to do things differently so that the life of my family can improve”.
To find out more about the project visit www.sendacow.org/starbucks