Farm: Masenga Hill
Altitude: 1700 -1900 MASL
Variety: Arabica Bourbon
Region: Lake Tanganyika, Burundi
Aout the Mitogi Hill Washing Station
The name “Migoti” comes from a local indigenous tree, which is also the name of the mountain where Migoti built their first coffee washing station. This washing station operates in a region referred to as Migoti Mountain, in Mutambu Commune of Bujumbura Province, 30 km from the centre of Bujumbura.
The washing station is operated by a local team of ten permanent staff and over 250 temporary workers who are employed during the coffee season from March to June. The station manager, Zephyrin Banzubaze, is responsible for managing all of the staff to train coffee farmers, receive and select coffee cherries, process the coffee, oversee the coffee drying process, store and mill the dry parchment coffee and prepare the final green coffee for export.
The majority of the temporary staff are women, who work mainly on the raised drying tables, regularly turning the coffee as it dries and removing defective beans that compromise the coffee quality. Migoti also assists farmers through ongoing education to prune and properly care for coffee trees, intercrop, plant shade trees, utilize green fertilizers, stabilize soils and natural pest control. The expectation is that by following best farming practices the farmers can increase the yields from their coffee trees by five- to ten-fold.
Coffee farming in Burundi
Burundi is among the smallest coffee-producing countries in East Africa, with a population of 10.5 million that is endowed with ideal conditions for coffee production: elevations of 1500 – 2000 m, Arabica Bourbon coffee trees, abundant rainfall, and approximately 800,000 families who cultivate an average of 150- 200 coffee trees per farm. Arabica coffee now represents virtually 100% of Burundi’s national production and the bourbon variety grown at high elevations in Burundi is characteristically “sweet with bright acidity, big body, floral, citrus and spiced with wild notes.”
Coffee farming and production began in Burundi in the early 1900s under Belgian colonial rule, where farmers were forced to grow coffee, the produce was bought and processed by the state and coffee was exported primarily to Europe. The sector was privatized in the 1960s, followed by state control from 1976 to 1991, and then a new wave of privatization beginning in 1991.
After the civil war in the 1990s, coffee has slowly emerged as a means to rebuild the agrarian sector and to increase foreign exchange, with an increase in investment and a somewhat healthy balance of both privately and state-run coffee companies. However, following the political crisis of 2015 and the subsequent economic crash, the coffee sector has struggled to meet the expectations and potential to stimulate the economic growth of Burundi. Over the past 25 years, coffee production in Burundi has averaged 26,700 tons per year.