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Rwandan “Maraba” Coffee Co-Operative Celebrates 15 year Partnership

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A coffee co-operative in the formerly war-torn country of Rwanda is celebrating a fruitful 15 year partnership with Union Hand-Roasted Coffee, based in East London. Since the Abahuzamugambi Ba Kawa Co-operative started working with Union in 2002, it has enjoyed an almost five-fold increase in green (exportable) coffee.

As a result of this relationship, the Abahuzamugambi Ba Kawa Co-operative, based in Southern Rwanda region of Huye, (formally called Maraba), has produced an astounding 900,000 kilograms of speciality coffee. In the past year alone, thanks to the accumulative effects of investment, training and support from the London coffee business, the cooperative increased production of green coffee by over 150%. Around a third of the coffee produced by the Abahuzamugambi Ba Kawa Co-operative is enjoyed in the UK, after being hand-roasted by Union.

After Rwanda’s devastating civil war, despite coffee being one of the country’s primary natural resources, it was often of poor quality, with producers receiving paltry and inconsistent payment. This made planning for the future and achieving sustainable development extremely difficult for producers.

Since 2002, a directed programme to produce high-quality specialty coffee has helped to revolutionise the fortunes of the Maraba region and today, speciality coffee accounts for 60% of the Rwanda’s foreign exchange earnings.

The success of coffee co-operatives like Abahuzamugambi Ba Kawa has led to nationwide job creation and increasing numbers of inhabitants with access to healthcare, education and clean water supply.

With the assistance and support of Union Hand-Roasted Coffee sourcing initiative Union Direct Trade, the Abahuzamugambi Ba Kawa Co-operative has increased coffee quality year-on-year through a continuous series of operational improvements. These include all-important construction of coffee washing stations and a centralised post-harvest processing facility where farmers deliver their fresh picked coffee. This has been accompanied by increased training on the interventions needed to produce high quality coffee.

The success of the booming industry has been the primary driver of social cohesion and mobility across the country, reducing unemployment levels and bringing  communities from different ethnicities  to work together as Rwandans to perpetuate the success of the specialty coffee trade.

Theophile Biziyaremye, General Manager of the Abahuzamugambi Ba Kawa Co-operative says: “Before the co-operative, farmers processed their coffee at home but this meant the quality was low – partly because they never actually got to taste the coffee they were producing. They were also not paid very much. Now we are producing a much higher quality each year which means farmers get paid higher prices, helping them to build for the future.”

With the world facing a potential coffee shortage in the next three to five years, sustainable development in coffee production has never been a more vital issue. Each year, 1.7bn cups of coffee are sold in the UK, and this number is rising fast. If coffee farmers are not paid a sustainable price for their crops, there is little incentive to produce high quality coffee and if this dynamic continues the potential coffee shortage could be severe.

Union Hand-Roasted Coffee believes that sustainable development is the only way to mitigate this risk. That’s why Union Direct Trade was created – the coffee sourcing initiative that significantly improves the livelihoods of farmers, through the production of high-quality coffee. Union Direct Trade is about building long-term relationships with small-scale farmers. This not only includes paying at least 25% over the International Fairtrade minimum price, but offering continued support and guidance as well – not to mention a direct route to a speciality coffee market with a trusted partner.

Union Co-founder Steven Macatonia says: “We work with farmers in 12 different countries all over the world and see the benefits of this approach each and every day, but nowhere more so than in Rwanda. 20 years ago, Rwanda was simply known for commodity quality coffee, but is now producing coffee in the top 2% quality-wise in the world. Co-operatives such as Abahuzamugambi Ba Kawa and others we work with such as Cocagi, are driving economic development in a country that was absolutely devastated merely two decades ago. As a result of this coffee innovation, Rwanda is prospering once again.”

Theophile adds: “Our close relationship with Union Hand-Roasted is hugely appreciated. Not only have they helped us to increase the quality and quantity of our coffee, but we’ve worked with them to increase production. By giving us pre-finance, knowledge, support and access to the UK market over such a long period of time, working with Union allows us to enjoy life today and build for tomorrow.”

Facts about coffee production in Rwanda

  • Coffee has been grown in Rwanda since the 1930s
  • After the Rwandan civil war, coffee prices were low with an export price of about USD1/Kg. In contrast when Union Hand-Roasted Coffee started to work with Rwandan coffee producers in 2002, it was offering about USD2.5/kg and now offers over USD5/kg
  • Over 500,000 farm families currently produce coffee and production ranges from 267,000 to 420,000 bags per year
  • Known as the “land of a thousand hills”, Rwanda is blessed with ideal conditions:  high altitude and rich soils perfect for producing speciality coffee. Because Rwanda has steep inclines, harvesting and transporting coffee is difficult, necessitating the use of specially-modified bikes to bring the coffee to Coffee Washing Stations.
  • Rwanda hosted the prestigious Cup of Excellence world coffee competition on numerous occasions. Rwanda is the first African country to participate in this competition.

Facts about Union Hand-Roasted, Maraba Coffee

  • Tasting notes: Fruity, full bodied and perfectly balanced. The world’s first Rwanda specialty coffee. Grown by Abahuzamugambi Ba Kawa.
  • Details: Light roast, washed and sun-dried and grown at an altitude of 1750m above sea level
  • Q grade: 87+ placing it in the top 2% of coffee in the world by quality
  • Union Hand-Roasted Maraba coffee is sold whole bean and ground in Waitrose and Ocado, and freshly-roasted from www.unionroasted.com

Environment

Consumers Investing in Eco-Friendly Cars with the UK Green Revolution

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Eco-Friendly Cars

The UK public appears to be embracing the electric car UK Green Revolution, as recent statistics reveal that more and more consumers are making the switch from petrol and diesel to electric or alternatively fuelled vehicles. The demand for diesel fell by almost a third in October compared to last year, whilst hybrid and electric cars rose by a staggering 36.9%.

Time for UK Green Revolution Change

So, what is the reason for this sudden change? This comes down to the current situation in the UK, which has led to people embracing eco-friendly technologies and automobiles. One of the main reasons is the Government’s clean air plans, which includes the impending 2040 ban on petrol and diesel automobiles. There is then the rollout of the T-Charge in London, the city of Oxford announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel from the city centre by 2020 and various other big announcements which take up a lot of space and time in the UK press.

h2>Diesel’s Reputation

In addition to this, the negative publicity against diesel has had a huge impact on the UK public. This has led to a lot of confusion over emissions, but actually, the newest low emission diesel automobiles will not face restrictions and are not as bad to drive as many believe. Most notably, German brand Volkswagen has been affected due to the emissions scandal in recent times. It was discovered that some emissions controls for VW’s turbocharged direct injection diesel engines were only activated during laboratory testing, so these automobiles were emitting 40 times more NO in real-world driving. As a result of this and all the negative publicity, the manufacturer has made adaptations and amended their vehicles in Europe. Additionally, they have made movements to improve the emissions from their cars, meaning that they are now one of the cleaner manufacturers. Their impressive range includes the Polo, Golf and Up, all of which can be found for affordable prices from places like Unbeatable Car.

The Current Market

The confusion over the Government’s current stance on diesel has clearly had a huge impact on the public. So much so that the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called on the Government to use the Autumn Budget to restore stability in the market and encourage the public to invest in the latest low emission automobiles. SMMT believes that this is the fastest and most effective way to address the serious air quality concerns in this country.

Incentives

One way that the Government has encouraged the public to make the switch is by making incentives. Motorists can benefit from a grant when they purchase a new plug-in vehicle, plus there are benefits like no road tax for electric vehicles and no congestion charge. When these are combined with the low running costs, it makes owning an electric automobile an appealing prospect and especially because there are so many great models available and a type to suit every motorist. One of the main reasons holding motorists back is the perceived lack of charging points. However, there are currently over 13,000 up and down the country with this number rapidly increasing each month. It is thought that the amount of charging points will outnumber petrol stations by 2020, so it is easy to see more and more motorists start to invest in electric cars way ahead of the 2040 ban.

It is an interesting time in the UK as people are now embracing the electric car revolution. The Government’s clean air plans seem to have accelerated this revolution, plus the poor publicity that diesel has received has only strengthened the case for making the switch sooner rather than later.

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Environment

How To Make The Shipping Industry Greener

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green shipping industry

Each and every year more damage is done to our planet. When businesses are arranging pallet delivery or any other kind of shipping, the environment usually isn’t their number one concern. However, there’s an increasing pressure for the shipping industry to go greener, particularly as our oceans are filling with plastic and climate change is occurring. Fortunately, there’s plenty of technology out there to help with this. Here’s how the freight industry is going greener.

Make Ship Scrapping Cleaner

There are approximately 51,400 merchant ships trading around the world at the moment. Although the act of transporting tonnes of cargo across the ocean every year is very damaging to the environment, the scrapping of container ships is also very harmful. Large container ships contain asbestos, heavy metals and oils which are toxic to both people and the environment during demolition. The EU has regulations in place which ensure that all European ships are disposed of in an appropriate manner at licenced yards and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced guidelines to make recycling of ships safe and environmentally friendly back in 2009, but since then only Norway, Congo and France have agreed to the policy. The IMO needs to ensure that more countries are on board with the scheme, especially India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which are some of the worst culprits for scrapping, which may mean enforcing the regulations in the near future.

Reduce Emissions

A single large container ship can produce the same amount of emissions as 50 million cars, making international shipping one of the major contributors towards global warming. Stricter emissions regulations are needed to reduce the amount of emissions entering our atmosphere. The sulphur content within ship fuel is largely responsible for the amount of emissions being produced; studies have shown that a reduction in the sulphur content in fuel oil from 35,000 p.p.m to 1,000 p.p.m could reduce the SOx emissions by as much as 97%! The IMO has already begun to ensure that ships with the Emission Control Areas of the globe, such as the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel, are using this lower sulphur content fuel, but it needs to be enforced around the world to make a significant difference.

As it’s not currently practical or possible to completely phase-out heavy, conventional fuels around the world, a sulphur scrubber system can be added to the exhaust system of ships to help reduce the amount of sulphur being emitted.

Better Port Management

As more and more ships are travelling around the world, congestion and large volumes of cargo can leave ports in developing countries overwhelmed. Rapidly expanding ports can be very damaging to the surrounding environment, take Shenzhen for example, it’s a collection of some of the busiest ports in China and there has been a 75% reduction in the number of mangroves along the coastline. Destroying valuable ecosystems has a knock-on effect on the rest of the country’s wildlife. Port authorities need to take responsibility for the environmental impact of construction and ensure that further expansion is carried out sustainably.

Some have suggested that instead of expansion, improved port management is needed. If port authorities can work with transport-planning bureaus, they will be able to establish more efficient ways of unloading cargo to reduce the impact on the environment caused by shipping congestion.

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