The story behind Abakundakawa Ishema Next Generation
The word Ishema means “pride” in the Rwandan language, and the young members of the Ishema Youth Association take pride in the coffee they grow and promote. Working with the Abakundakawa Cooperative in the highlands of Rushashi in Northern Rwanda, this group has been active only since 2019.
Until recently, most member farmers in Abakundakawa were of the older generations, often parents or grandparents, with less than 100 youth being members of the co-op. Since Ishema began in 2019, membership has grown to 400 young people. They list their goals as: improving the quality of the coffee produced in Abakundakawa, reducing rural migration by creating rural jobs for young people, and promoting family succession planning by providing agricultural training to the next generation of farmers.
Ishema’s coffee is grown on farms between 1,700 and 1,900 meters above sea level, and they grow primarily bourbon and Jackson varieties. They have two harvests, their main harvest between March-June and a fly harvest from September-November. Farms in this area tend to be very small, with only 1-2 hectares each, so harvesting tends to be a family activity. Once they have picked the coffee, the farmers sell the red to the local washing station where the coffee is washed and then dried on raised beds.Download Abakundakawa Ishema Next Generation Info Sheet