CQI began work in Burundi in 2009, collaborating with USAID’s East African Competitiveness and Trade Expansion (COMPETE) program to expand the Q Coffee System, collaborate and support the African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA) and develop competitive strategies for Fine Robusta coffee. The shared goal among these organizations is to provide all East African coffee producing countries the opportunity to maximize their effectiveness in the marketplace and award premiums to the entire coffee value chain.
From 2008 to 2012, as part of this program, CQI provided training and technical assistance in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda. A regional emphasis brought together 13 highly qualified people from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda for East Africa’s first Q Grader Train-the-Trainer course. All of the students successfully completed the course and are now Assistant Q Instructors. Ted Lingle, CQI’s former executive director and the Q Instructor, remarked, “These individuals are the ‘cream of the crop’ cuppers, and possess both the cupping and teaching skills to become excellent cupping instructors.”
In 2016 it was estimated that out of the about 35,000 MT of coffee, specialty is was at 2% but this could rise to 50% over time if these programs continue to be implemented. In fact, Burundi will benefit quickly because of the current washing station infrastructure and quality production environment. Shipping and transport are major issues in landlocked Burundi, so trainings for exporters on transport management and logistics, including setting realistic timelines for delivery, are needed to manage expectations and constraints.
Building on the work with COMPETE, CQI has worked with the INTERCAFE (the local coffee industry association) and ARFIC (the local government coffee regulatory agency). The latter was supported in a project funded by UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization), for which CQI did a lab evaluation and a quality coffee seminar for stakeholders in 2016.
Coffee Quality Institute, in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), teamed up on the Trade Capacity Building Program in Burundi in 2018 to offer coffee cupper training for a select group of quality-assurance professionals. This program, funded by the World Bank, aimed to improve Burundi’s export performance, facilitate the access of products to international and regional markets, and ensure compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary regulations.