Rwanda's Coffee Bike Project
Rwanda's small coffee farmers have a dilemma. In order to get the coffee cherry from the farm to the processing plant or washing station, growers must rent trucks to transport the cherries while they're still fresh. Animal transport is out of the question because of a shortage of feed. Hundreds of farmers are thus forced to carry cherries from their fields two to four kilometers to the collection points by hand; meanwhile the flavor and value of the cherries goes down the longer they go unwashed.
The Coffee Bike Project, and initiative of Project Rwanda, aims to provide 2,000 special hauling long bikes for coffee farmers to haul their crop to the washing stations and collection points. Not only is the bike a cheaper and more environmentally sound choice, but the growers can earn more money when the cherries arrive earlier. This project is a joint effort between with Texas A & M University and their Rwanda management team and the U.S. Agency for International Development, which funded the actual cost of the bikes.
This program is under development and will involve a "hand up" not a "handout" through a micro financing mechanism which subsidizes the cost of the bike but requires repayment of a percentage of the bike cost over a period of time at low interest rates.