The Akawa Project

16/03/23

The Akawa Project, our initiative to help growers in Burundi

 

 

The Akawa Project


In recent years, the East African country of Burundi has gone through some difficult political and economic times. As long-time buyers of coffees from Burundi, we know that the coffee growers are among the first to be affected by this situation and we believe that we have a role to play in supporting them through it. With this in mind, the Akawa project came to life in 2016, with the aim of helping farmers in this country to reach financial autonomy, which goes beyond just producing coffee.

 

 

Fair treatment for every farmer

We want to give the 11,000 coffee farmers participating in the Akawa Project a structure on which they can rely on, with fair treatment from the farm all the way through the value chain to the final consumer.

 

This starts with price. The Akawa local implementing partner in Burundi receives pre-payment before the crop starts, in order to implement certification requirements and train the farmers. Transactions are also confirmed at price levels at the start of the season, allowing the local miller to have constant economic viability and giving the farmers the reassurance that their product will not only be bought but that they will get full payment in time.

 

 

Education and training

To bring long-term benefits to the farmers in Burundi, the Akawa Project goes beyond money. We want to give farmers across the country the information and training they need to get the best out of their land. To do this, we selected groups of Leader Farmers, who receive Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) training and are tasked to disseminate the acquired knowledge and skills to other farmers in their area. That way we reach the maximum number of people in the most effective way possible.

 

Finally, an emerging key element to drive the Akawa Project is the PIP: Producer integrated Plan, which Akawa is going to aim at achieving in terms of impact. This plan focuses on supporting farmer households to design their own plan for the future. 

 

 

Gender

The Akawa Project also aims to increase Women’s autonomy to support their social and economical place in society, with a vision to reinforce gender balance and respect of women’s rights. The project helped form Women empowerment groups, where all participants are able to take ownership of their own decision-making processes for a better life. By combining gender skill-sets for common decision making, there is improved farm & household collaboration between genders, which results in resilient families that are able to create value from their knowledge and their land. Additionally, a focus on gender enables improved savings and cash management at a family level, and the inclusion of women in the community decision making processes. 

 

 

Access to water

Fresh water is essential for every community. A recent Akawa Project initiative has been to identify natural water sources across Burundi, with the aim of protecting and sanitising them. A country-wide topography study saw 36 water sources visited and assessed, based on their outflow, accessibility and current state. As a result, 20 water sources have been protected across 9 hills and 2 washing stations, providing 1175 households with clean, fresh water. And there are more to come.

 

 

Better soil

As well as fresh water, soil needs manure in order to be fertile. Farmers in other countries use cows, but the nature of Burundi’s geography makes this difficult – so the Akawa Project has instead overseen the distribution of goats to its Leader Farmers. In total, 225 goats were distributed last year, with the promise of future baby goats being passed on by the Leaders to their neighbours, thus creating a positive cycle in the community.

 

 

Facing the future together

The Akawa project is a long-term commitment. We believe in Burundi, and in our ability to make it a better fit for our global partners. Through our network of Leader Farmers and initiatives across every aspect of farming, we have already made a big difference to the lives of communities in this tiny country, but we know there’s much more to come. 

 

Look out for quarterly news updates on our site and other channels and check out our call for funding if you want to donate to support the project. 

 

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