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“We are very excited to have a regional Starbucks Farmer Support Center here in Rwanda. We look forward to working with Starbucks to offer additional support to the coffee farming community here and in the neighboring countries,” says Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda. “This center will offer many new opportunities to enhance our methods and produce even greater volumes of our high quality specialty coffees.”
The Rwandan center, like the one announced earlier this week to be located in Ethiopia, will have an agronomist (agricultural scientist) on staff and will be similar to the Starbucks Farmer Support Center established in 2004 in Costa Rica. The staff will work with East African coffee communities to improve coffee quality and growing practices. They will also work to increase the number of farmers participating in Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, Starbucks sustainable coffee buying guidelines. Since the establishment of the company’s Latin American Farmer Support Center, Starbucks has seen improvements in quality evaluation scores, a 20 percent increase in yields per hectare, an 80 percent reduction in the use of pesticides and a 5 percent increase in the suppliers’ C.A.F.E. Practices scores for participating growers in that region.
Schultz is joined in Rwanda by Cliff Burrows, president Starbucks EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Dub Hay, Starbucks senior vice president of Coffee and Global Procurement; and Sandra Taylor, Starbucks senior vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility. During his visit in Rwanda, Schultz will meet with President Kagame as well as visit a local coffee farm.
“We are honored to have the opportunity to participate in the further development of coffee farming practices in Rwanda and East Africa in general. The fine coffees grown here are cherished by people around the world, and Starbucks is extremely pleased both to support the farming community and to share these delightful coffees with people across the globe through our nearly 15,000 stores,” says Schultz.
Starbucks is strengthening and deepening its engagement with East Africa, with a special focus on new technical capacity building programs such as the Farmer Support Center to help farmers produce the high-quality coffee purchased by specialty coffee buyers like Starbucks. Today’s announcement builds on the investments Starbucks has made in East Africa over the past five years. This includes:
* A commitment to double the amount of East African coffee purchased in 2006 by 2009.
* More than $4 million to help East African coffee farmers improve their communities through funding projects such as schools and bridges.
* Programs with nonprofit organizations such as CARE and WaterAid to address rural development challenges in the region.
* An additional $1 million into a program to provide access to low interest loans to East African coffee farmers through the non-profit lender Root Capital, for a total of $10 million in loans to coffee farmers worldwide.