Pascasie Mukagasana has known great hardship. She was separated from her children and her husband, Athanase Nzigiyimana, for a year following the 1994 Rwanda genocide. They reunited, only to lose a son to illness. In 1998, Athanase was wrongfully imprisoned for 10 years. Alone with her children, Pascasie struggled to feed her family.
Soon after Athanase’s release from prison, the couple began working with TechnoServe. Our advisors showed Pascasie and Athanase techniques for producing high-quality Arabica coffee, which commands a high price in the global marketplace.
Rebuilding Lives Through Coffee
Through coffee farming, Pascasie and Athanase are rebuilding their lives. Money from coffee has helped them feed their family, send their daughter to school and invest in their coffee fields for the long term. “The higher income took us out of hunger,” Pascasie says. “With the money we will get, we will pay off debts and pay school fees.” TechnoServe is helping to bring similar benefits to tens of thousands of other families. With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, our Coffee Initiative will empower 180,000 East African farmers over four years to improve the quality of their coffee and bring prosperity to their communities.
Our work is impacting farming families in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. We impart best practices in areas such as plant nutrition and pest management to promote high yields. Our advisors work with farmers to build and operate wet mills—processing stations that produce high-quality coffee beans. And we help farmers sell to the specialty buyers that supply the coffee shops and grocery stores in your neighborhood. With TechnoServe’s assistance, our clients are receiving, on average, 37 percent more income on coffee sold.
The Next Generation of Solutions
As we enter the fourth year of the program, TechnoServe is also providing innovations for the future. We are working with local banks to develop new financial mechanisms that give smallholder farmers access to loans. Across the program, we are introducing technologies that conserve scarce water resources and protect the environment for future generations.
We are also developing a sophisticated set of social impact measures to ensure that we help people like Pascasie and Athanase lift themselves out of poverty for good.
TechnoServe hopes to expand this work to double coffee incomes for one million farmers by 2019. With the right knowledge, a coffee bean can change lives on a grand scale.