A Buck for a Bike for the Beans

Rwanda, a small country in Africa’s center, is rich is beautiful scenery, mountainous terrain and volcanic soil. It has all the ingredients for great coffee production, and thanks to some cycle enthusiasts, the coffee farmers are receiving a big boost toward improving coffee bean quality. GreenAnswers.com ran an inspirational story on the project this week. Rwandans are making great strides in healing from the terrible genocide of less than twenty years ago. Their resilience is remarkable, and it was this hopefulness and natural beauty of the country that inspired the coffee bike project. With around 500,000 small coffee farms averaging 200 trees each, it’s projected that coffee could generate $150 million in foreign currency exchange. That money could do a lot to bring stability, peace and welfare to a country needing all three. Coffee export is the key. The coffee farmers faced an insurmountable problem until Project Rwanda’s coffee bikes. Called the little Switzerland of Africa, the country is indeed mountainous, and the coffee farms are also hilly. This makes transporting of the beans from picking to processing time-consuming by foot, and the beans deteriorate by the hour. Without funds for trucks the farmers were doing the best they could on foot or with a primitive wooden scooter-bike, for those who had them. It’s been estimated that using the new bike can save three hours and increase carrying capacity by five times, so that the beans ferment less and bring in a higher price. So far at least 2000 new bikes have been put to use in the coffee farms. Fundraisers are being held in California. You can also purchase shirts, caps, socks, and a CD. Visit the attractive website, http://projectrwanda.org/news, for more information, videos, music and lots of photos. Three of ROASTe’s Rwandan offerings are below.

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