Burundi | Munyinya Hill
Munyinya is a story of rags to riches. It was the first hill that made Ben and Kristy Carlson, the founders of Long Miles Coffee, realize that Burundi coffee had the potential to produce amazing micro-lots. Munyinya lies just beyond the border of Bukeye commune. The dirt road winding towards the hill is cut into the side of steep slopes that drop into cinematic views of the valleys below. Coffee trees line the steady incline that leads to the tiny town center. Despite its beauty, it was a hill that Long Miles almost gave up on because year after year, farmers kept delivering bad quality cherries. But, when a hill holds as much potential as Munyinya, it is worth rolling up our sleeves and pouring our efforts into it day after day, year after year.
CHALLENGES: Munyinya is remote, tucked away from the washing station. Farmers travel anywhere between five and thirteen kilometres to the washing station when delivering their coffee cherries. The winding dirt roads between Munyinya and the washing station become small canyons during Burundi’s rainy season, which make them impassable. When this happens, farmers are left stranded and unable to deliver the cherries to the washing station. The heavy rains can also lead to flooding that washes precious crops away.
THE SCOUTS: Coffee scouts Lydie, David and Innocent started working with Munyinya farmers by focusing their efforts on educating farmers. Their first lesson was to teach farmers how to pick coffee cherries at the height of their ripeness. They have also improved the quality of Munyinya’s coffee by assisting farmers with planting shade trees, mulching and pruning their farms. Most farmers are now producing five times the amount of coffee cherries than before Long Miles starting working with them. On the way to delivering their coffee cherries, farmers pass by a river that runs through the valley below Munyinya. There, they stop to float their cherries in the freshwater before reaching Bukeye, an extra quality step that we can taste each year on the cupping table.
The scouts believe that coffee can help to alleviate poverty on Munyinya hill. Their hope is for all farmers to have shade trees and to eradicate antestia bugs, the colourful critters linked to the potato defect. They are also on a never ending mission to get the youth of the hill interested in producing coffee.
THE FUTURE: The people of Munyinya dream of better roads. They hope that a new Long Miles washing station will be built closer to them so that they will not have to travel for hours on bad roads to deliver their coffee cherries during harvest season.