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Knowledge Means Power … and Market Expansion

Education is an asset that cannot be reclaimed or repossessed. It’s also a renewable resource, as people share what they learn with others.

That’s what has been happening in the months since the first training class held in Burundi to secure Rainforest Alliance (RFA) certification.  Traveling from several provinces in the pre-harvest season, a group of 20 wet mill managers, smallholder farmers, and staff members attended a week of classes with Burundi’s sole RFA certification trainer. JNP Coffee sponsored the class, bringing the group together in a conference room just across the street from its Bujumbura office.

RFA Certification

They learned about key assessment factors for their wet mills, items to address to ensure process transparency and green coffee lot traceability and changes they should implement to minimize environmental impact and promote sustainable practices. Their on-site employees will learn these details, too. Everyone who works there will play a role in adopting the new methods required for certification.

An outside auditor will visit their facilities sometime in the next six months to a year.

Once their wet mills earn the RFA certification, the coffee processed there can be sold to a wider international market. Without this type of globally recognized certification, according to new regulations set to begin at year-end, they will have to sell their coffee elsewhere. Additionally, RFA certification relates to the transparency and traceability of the coffees, as well as their social, environmental, and economic impact.

RFA certification Burundi Coffee Farmer

Market access is one priority, but equally important is JNP Coffee’s commitment to sustainability – supporting coffee industry growth that also considers the social, economic and environmental impact of operations on Burundi’s precious natural resources.

As JNP Coffee founder and CEO Jeanine Niyonzima-Aroian reported from Burundi in mid-May, “We have seen tremendous disruptions with the harvest this year, but we tend to attribute the changes to global warming.

“Everything seems to be intense this year. No rain for so long, then brutal precipitation lasting longer than usual, resulting in the first picking delayed by three to four weeks in most of our harvesting area, and then an enormous yield a few weeks ago – so much so that some wet mills started running out of drying space on the raised African beds.

She concluded, “The situation seems to be under control now for those less mature cherries, as farmers wait for more rain to come.”

RFA certification Burundi Coffee Farmer 2

Given the region’s changing weather patterns, Jeanine asked the training class participants during their week of instruction to discuss what the concept of sustainability meant for them. Their answers went far beyond rainfall levels.

“Sustainability in coffee means planting trees to provide shade for the coffee trees and putting infrastructure in place to avoid erosion,” explained one manager.

Expanded world markets are another way to see sustainability at work, said a second manager. “For us who are close to small coffee farmers, we need to continue supporting them, so that they can produce more high-quality coffee and so our coffee can be appreciated globally.”

Sustainability encompasses the entire coffee economy, noted another class participant. It “brings all of us together – everyone in the industry from the farmer to the processor, dry milling company, the buyer, and finally, the consumer,” he said.

RFA certification Burundi Coffee Farmer 3

“Everyone along the supply chain must be responsible and respectful, protect the environment, respect one another in the workplace, avoid child labor, respect and protect women, and provide fair wages.”

Bringing life-changing ideas and specific ways to achieve globally recognized certification to members of the coffee community in Burundi demonstrates just one way that JNP Coffee is making a difference in the coffee industry in one of the poorest countries in the world.

The high-scoring coffee that farmers trained by JNP Coffee reliably produce year after year continues to delight consumers worldwide.

Despite the intense weather situation, the latest harvest has been bountiful. The company is taking pre-orders now through the JNP Coffee website at


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