The Gitesi washing station lies within the Gitesi sector of the Western Province of Rwanda. The washing station is owned and run by a father and son team of Alexis and Aime Gahizi. Alexis is originally from the Karongi District where Gitesi is located. His family has been growing coffee in this region for generations. Gitesi has strong relationships with the farmers in the local community who deliver cherry to Gitesi.
The Washing Station has different programs for the farmers and the local community including:
- A coffee nursery with between 15,000 and 50,000 coffee trees (depending on the needs) which are distributed to coffee farmers at no cost to the farmer;
- A bonus to farmers at the end of each season based on performance;
- Distribution of pumps and other farming materials to local farmers;
- Distribution of cows to local farmers every year to provide an alternative income stream, and a source of organic fertiliser. The first born calf to each of these cows is then given to another farmer. This helps to distribute more cows to more farmers and unifies the farming community.
- Health insurance for 100 coffee farmers every year.
- Training for farmers of coffee or other crops on financial and agricultural management.
- Production of organic fertiliser from the coffee pulp and assistance for farmers using it in their coffee farms;
- Distribution of chemical fertiliser to coffee farmers.
Gitesi are CAFÉ Practices certified and Rainforest Alliance certified. They have a modern waste water management system and produce organic or natural fertiliser through coffee pulp. They also have a pilot programme where farmers can learn about growing different vegetables, ensuring that they have some income outside of coffee season.
Prior to pulping, the coffee cherries are placed in a water tank to grade the ripeness. The under and over ripe’s are processed separately as lower grade coffee. The cherries are then pulped to remove the skin, pulp and 70% of the mucilage before being dry fermented for 10-12 hours. The resultant parchment is graded and washed in channels and separated into two grades based on density, before being further soaked for 16 hours.
The wet parchments are then taken for inspection to remove any defective parchments before being dried on African drying beds for up to 15 days.