Burundi SHAMBA Mushroom Project
Angele is commited to community, gender equality, and social justice. She is a member of the International Women's Coffee Alliance, and is constantly working for her people to provide better access to healthcare, schooling, food, and income.
The goal of this project is to improve the lives of the 360-member Terimbere Cooperative who are responsible for the harvesting and production of our Shamba coffee. 200 members of the cooperative are women, and Angele strongly believes that empowering women is the key to bettering the community. This funding goes directly to a mushroom farming initiative that will act as an additional food source for the cooperative. Since mushrooms have a short harvest cycle, they can also provide extra household income in coffee's off-season. The mushrooms will also provide more organic matter for composting and improve the soil quality. This project will ultimately result in more high quality coffee, as the farmers will have better access to natural fertilizer, and will have a more stable income to take care of new trees.
Your purchases at Café Grumpy will also directly contribute to this campaign. $1 from the purchase of every 12oz Shamba retail bag and $.25 per cup of Shamba will go toward reaching the goal.
If you are not in NYC, you can buy Shamba coffee here: http://cafegrumpy.com/shop/coffee/shamba-2/
Bosco has developed the same process for cultivation and harvesting that he showed me last summer in Bujumbura -- this serves as the model for future sites. The basic set up consists of three rooms: the seed lab, incubation room, and harvest room. All of the future sites must have these rooms to be deemed adequate, as well as a drum for sterilization of the substrate.
Because the Terimbere cooperative is spread throughout the region in remote access areas, it makes sense to have multiple sites to ensure proper development of a successful and sustainable mushroom farming program. Each group (called an association) consists of 30 cooperative members, 10 of which receive program training which they may then disperse to the others. The additional sites selected for mushroom production and collection directly correlate to the members that have the most coffee trees, so that they benefit from the compost.
The first two sites we visited were very close to each other. Each association has a chief, and the site of construction and production is their home. Our first stop was to see Safari and his association which is comprised of 20 men and 10 women. This site was the most complete, with some production visible and in process. They will need more substrate and basic materials to continue production, which can be obtained from the Mushroom House in Kirundo Center.
Just up the hill from Safari is Bernadette and her association which is comprised of 25 women and 5 men. They greeted us with a warm song and then we got to tour the facility. It is currently under construction, and not yet functional. The rest of their building materials were on site, though, and they should be finished by the end of this week. We spoke with the team there for a few moments, and one woman gave a strong testimonial about the impact the training is having on the women. She said that it is a great opportunity for empowerment and working together. Women typically do not have access to education, so this is a chance for them to redefine themselves. She received the training and was able to get 7 harvests from her training supply. They understand the value of the program and are eager to continue so that they can sustain their nutrition and finance.
From there we drove about 30 minutes to Vumbi commune, where we visited Emile and his association which is comprised of 20 men and 10 women. Their facility is also under construction, and Bosco provided some on-site consultation to discuss logistical issues and work on organizing the space. Angele said that Emile's group has done a good job of including the women in the development of the project.
We hoped to make one last site visit to Leopold's association in Kivumu, another 20 minutes away by dirt road. The facility is in a similar stage of progress as Safari's group, and they have been able to do some production, but are ultimately in need of more basic materials to continue. Unfortunately, the road to get to the commune was not passable, as it would have put the car at a full vertical angle and Angele did not want to risk flipping the car or getting stuck in the ditch to the side. Bosco and his driver were able to make it, so they proceeded without us.
In the meantime we drove out to the main highway road, and sat down for beer and brochettes (kebabs, in this case fresh goat) while we waited to meet with Faustin, one of the Terimbere leaders that I have encountered on each of my visits. Faustin and his association have not received training yet, but he was in great spirits and greeted me in English which he has never done before. We also met Leopold there, so we had a chance to talk to him about the progress his team is making.
A short while later Bosco and his driver arrived. They had been stuck on the road coming back, so it was good that we opted to pass on our opportunity.
We continued to chat about the project and the progress being made, and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon with many local people who are friends and family of the cooperative members. Angele gave Faustin some money for fertilizer so that his group can begin post-harvest maintenance for their coffee trees.
To become a self-sustaining operation, the group needs to have spore generating laboratory equipment. This crucial part of the process is still being delivered piecemeal from the capital (3+ hours away). An autoclave machine which creates an anaerobic environment for sterilization, a machine to cut the substrate (which needs to be imported from Tanzania), and a supply of electricity (which will be primarily solar). Bosco and I visited Alchem, the local medical/science equipment store, to view the necessary pieces and confirm pricing. At present they need another (possibly final) push of approximately US$3000 to purchase the items that will give them long term sustainability and independence.
Bosco will continue to train the remaining groups and strategize with the association chiefs so that more growing sites can be completed as quickly as possible. He hopes to complete the trainings by the end of this year, and to finish the Kirundo lab as soon as possible.
Thanks for your support! To date, Cafe Grumpy has contributed $9000 to this project. We are pushing to make the last $3k as quickly as we can. Anything you can donate to this project is greatly appreciated!!
As our fundraising initiative continues, we get closer to completing our goal -- training 130 members of the cooperative. Finances at this stage of the project will go toward more construction materials (for mushroom growth and composting facilities) and laboratory equipment for seed cultivation.
Thank you for your continued support!!
Project leader Jean-Bosco Rugayabatinya has already given hands-on mushroom cultivation and production classes to 25 women and 20 men. During their training sessions, the groups were able to produce a total of 230 kgs of mushrooms and 250 kgs of compost. Bosco hopes to have enough resources to train 85 more co-op members this year.
One of the biggest challenges of project development is moving supplies from Bujumbura (the capital) to Kirundo. This drive is about three hours, and the roads are frequently blocked. Ideally the cooperative will have their own autoclave machine for sterilization and cultivation of spores, which is part of the next phase of fundraising.
Thanks for your continued interest and support !
We continue to work toward meeting our fundraising goal for the project, and will be reviewing our cafe sales at the end of this month to see where we stand.
Your ongoing support and encouragement of this project has been tremendous. If you'd like to donate, there is still time!