We love hearing good news from Fair Trade producers, and today's news comes from Rwanda
. Last month, Rwanda held its annual Cup of Excellence
competition. The competition, which takes place in nine countries
worldwide, involves a
strict scoring system (hundreds of cups of each winning coffee are tasted during the three weeks of competition) and is recognized for its high standards
. Three Rwandan Fair Trade cooperatives proved their ability to meet these standards and then some, taking first, second and third place
at the competition. This is a huge accomplishment, and it demonstrates Fair Trade cooperatives' ability to produce coffee of superior quality.
The first-place winner was COOPAC cooperative
. The cooperative achieved Fair Trade certification
in 2003, and it has used Fair Trade premium to fund improvements like primary schools, health care clinics and road construction. It has been a participant in our three-year Global Producer Services
program, which helps producers improve their market positions, form business partnerships with U.S. companies and sell more coffee on Fair Trade terms.
The cooperatives that won second place and third place in the competition are also participants in the Global Producer Services program. The second-place winner, Dukunde Kawa
(translation: "coffee lovers"), is located near a mountain gorilla habitat and has undertaken several environmental programs using Fair Trade premiums. The majority of its workforce is female, and the cooperative strives to maximize benefits for families. The third-place recipient, Abakunda Kawa
("one must love coffee") also has a strong female presence in its workforce, and female cooperative members have formed a
women's association that works to address pressing business issues and improve conditions in the local community. Through the Global Producer Services program, these cooperatives have taken part in trainings on topics like cupping, agronomy
and cooperative governance, and they've gained access to great opportunities for market linkages.
It's wonderful to see these cooperatives receive recognition for producing coffee that adheres to both high ethical standards and high quality standards. Congratulations to COOPAC , Dukunde Kawa and Abakunda Kawa !