kibingo

Kibingo washing station

The Kibingo central washing station is located in the commune of Kayanza in northern Burundi. The station itself lies at 1893 meters above sea level. The altitude of the farms in the neighboring hills that supply the washing station varies from 1700 to 1900 meters above sea level. Kibingo serves 3553 registered coffee growers, spread over 18 hills in the area. In 2016, all these producers together had 1,010,062 trees. That’s an average of 284 trees per producer.

The washing station is equipped with 10 fermentation tanks, 2 soaking tanks and a drying field with 165 drying tables and 4 pre-drying tables. Kibingo can process 750,000 kg of cherry per day.

At cherry intake, a picking team sorts the cherries on maturity. This is essential for a fine processing, with fewer damaged beans. The cherry skins are mechanically removed during pulping. Next, the sticky parchment will dry ferment for 12 hours. When fermentation is complete, the parchment goes down the washing and grading channel. Finally, the top quality coffee soaks for an additional 24 hours to remove any remaining mucilage before going to the pre-drying tables. Here, the second team of pickers checks the wet parchment to take out defect beans. After a couple of hours, the parchment is moved to the drying tables. Depending on the weather conditions, it will reach 12% moisture content in about two weeks.

Organization

Kibingo CWS has 3553 registered farmer members, spread over 18 collines or hills in Kayanza province. All producers registered at a Greenco washing station are organized in groups of 30 people, headed by a farm leader. This leader acts as a spokesman to facilitate communication and organization with the washing station.

In Burundi, wet mills can reach farmers in a ray of 3km. If the washing station is located too far away, producers will sell to middlemen, often at a disadvantage. To prevent this, Kibingo and other Greenco CWS have collection centres. These centres allow them to reach farmers at up to 9 kilometres distance from the wet mill. This is a huge benefit for the producer who doesn’t have to travel far with a heavy load of cherries. At the same time, shorter distances help to preserve the quality.

At the washing station, farmers can obtain organic fertilizer from reconverted coffee pulp. To promote farm renovation, producers can get low-cost, subsidized coffee seedlings at the washing station. Each station has its own nursery for this purpose.