After a quick 30-minute flight from Kigali to Bujumbura, I found myself in a contrasting environment to where I had spent the last 10 days. The “welcome to Burundi committee” charged me $80.00 for a visa to enter. It was immediately 20 degrees warmer. A driver sent by the local event organizer picked me up and took me to the hotel, driving right through the center of town. I witnessed a bustling community built around the central bus station. Everyone coming from somewhere making the economy click and then back “up country” to their homes.
Twenty students from Universities, wet mills, producers and exporters were in place to learn more about improving their grasp of coffee quality expertise. The group started in a very remedial spot, causing us to question the validity of the class. However, we were pleasantly surprised by day three as the growth of each became apparent, and rewarding.
The students making strides is huge for Burundi; unfortunately the soil is all but depleted of minerals and therefore deficient overall to produce the consistent quality necessary to be specialty. We are working on some proposals to collaborate with new owners of recently privatized washing stations to improve the quality of the soil, picking, sorting and prep. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that the funding will become available to get this project off the ground.