COOPAC - Coopérative pour la Promotion des Activités Café
COOPAC was founded by native Rwandans. Their comprehensive knowledge about the land, language, culture and community needs enable the farmers to produce a quality coffee bean harvest. The cooperative president, Emmanuel Rwakagara, is driven to create a coffee of superior quality and pursues this relentlessly with cooperative members. Excellent coffee quality and Fair Trade certification have enabled COOPAC to sustain efforts for socio-economic development.
Coffee has long been Rwanda’s largest export, but the genocide of 1994 brought production to a halt. The genocide destroyed the country and with nearly one million lives lost in just 90 days. With assistance from international political bodies and the tremendous courage of the Rwandan people, a degree of stability has been brought back to the country. Members have overcome great obstacles utilizing their agricultural knowledge to sustain their recovering land for the benefit of their community.
COOPAC coffee has a pleasant acidity with grapefruit notes and citric overtones of sweet lemon and lime. In 2007, COOPAC took first place among Rwandan producers in the Eastern African Fine Coffee Association cupping competition and placed third overall with a cupping score of 87. In 2010, they won the Rwanda Cup of Excellence - a strict competition that selects the very best coffees produced from around the country.
I have never in my life seen a cooperative that gives discounts on cattle and helps build schools to better educate its members' children. All of these things are what remind me of the powerful impact Fair Trade has on a developing community. Long live COOPAC, long live Fair Trade! ”
Marceline Nyiranzabahimana, cooperative member
Fair Trade premiums have been very beneficial for me. Because of the premiums I have been able to build a beautiful home and now own four cows that have just given birth to two calves! They were donated to my family and I on behalf of COOPAC because of my dedication to the cooperative. ”
Félix Urengejeho, Member
Women Coffee Group and Other Empowerment Programs
On the main cooperative level, groups of women produce their own coffee and have been seeking more lucrative markets in the U.S. Together they are the “COOPAC Coffee Made by Women” group and have witnessed the benefits of COOPAC premium funded programs. Premiums have facilitated purchases their own plantations instead of relying solely on plantations they inherit. This has allowed them to increase their coffee yield and production. Their coffee will be categorized and branded separately from regular COOPAC coffee. These women have also received training in basketry and will eventually sell their baskets to the U.S. and Japan. After harvest seasons end, business classes are offered to women to educate them on additional income generating projects.
Cattle Distribution and Organic Certification
COOPAC initiated a livestock distribution program where its members were provided with cows and goats and their offspring, once raised, was then distributed to other members. This program was initiated in tandem with an organic conversion program. Fair Trade cooperatives that invest their premium funds in organic certification ultimately receive a higher price incentive for their products.
Agroforestry Assistance and Training
COOPAC has been able to develop an effective and sustainable supply of new trees through the distribution of seeds for agroforestry. Other tree management resources include workshops on soil, erosion and proper maintenance.