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.
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
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
Organic Certification and Access to Markets
Since 2004, the vision of COOPAC has always been to improve the quality of its coffee and environment. In collaboration with CTB (Cooperation Technique Belge), they are conducting an organic coffee project which aims to access the organic international markets and eventually certify 350 members of COOPAC living in Kivumu and Gishamwana. This is a three years project funded 75 percent from CTB and the rest from COOPAC Fair Trade premiums. The final objective is for all COOPAC members to achieve organic certification.
The cooperative used Fair Trade premiums to promote education within their community. Busoro Primary School was outfitted with two new classrooms, further demonstrating the opportunities Fair Trade can bring to developing countries. As the primary school expands, more children will have access to education, ultimately providing them with the resources they need to succeed in the future.
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.