Gakenke Farm: Burundi
Gakenke CWS’s manager is called Gratien Nankwahombaye, a passionate man who started working at the washing station in 2013. He’s very strict on quality, focusing on having the farmers deliver only fully ripe red cherries. Farmers in the Kayanza area tend to already have good selective picking habits, which makes Gratien’s work a bit easier. After cherry intake, the cherries go through flotation and a first picking. Cherries are wet-processed under constant supervision. The pulping, fermentation time, washing, grading in the channels and a final soaking is closely monitored. Gakenke washing station has a cherry processing capacity of about 750 metric tons. The station has 2 flotation tanks, 10 fermentation tanks, and 2 soaking tanks. The drying field has 150 raised beds.
After soaking, the wet parchment goes to shaded selection tables. The selection team takes out parchment with any sign of damage. Drying takes between two to three weeks on African beds. The moisture level is monitored closely, and on very sunny days, the parchment is covered to prevent damage. When asked what the most crucial moment is for the quality of the coffee at Gakenke, Gratien replied that quality starts off-season, on the plantations with his farmers.
Gakenke CWS has 2685 registered farmer members, spread over 22 collines in Gatare commune, Kayanza province. These are organized in groups of 30 people, headed by a farm leader to facilitate communication and organization with the washing station. The farmers typically have an average of 300 trees. In Burundi, wet mills can typically reach farmers in a radius of 3km. If the washing station is located too far away, farmers will sell to middle men, often at a disadvantage. To prevent this, Gakenke and other Greenco CWS have 12 collection centers. These centers allow them to reach farmers at up to nine kilometers distance from the wet mill without compromising the quality.
At the washing station, farmers can get organic fertilizer from reconverted coffee pulp. To promote farm renovation, producers can get subsidized young coffee plants at the washing station. Each station has its own nursery.