Burundi is a small, agrarian country in the highlands of East Africa that continues to rise from the devastations of civil war. In the mid-2000s, after more than a decade of civil strife, Burundi returned to the development of its coffee industry, producing higher quality coffee.
First it was Rwanda, Burundi’s neighbor to the north, which found itself inundated by Westerners with eyes peeled for quality coffee. The buzz is specialty coffee—the high-grade drink that pulls in premium prices that can help change the fortunes of nations.
Through the course of the coffee sector’s privatization and liberalization, Burundi has built stronger ties with the international market. This has allowed coffee growers to become more organized and form smaller cooperatives and private enterprises (linked directly to the washing stations). What is especially important about this movement in Burundi is that it plays directly into the new developments in the global specialty coffee industry.
The policy and regulatory environment governing the Burundi coffee sector is vital to its functioning and to the ongoing process of liberalization and privatization. The coffee development authority, ARFIC (formerly OCIBU), serves as the government’s regulatory and policy arm and is charged with guiding policy, monitoring production, maintaining official coffee statistics, certifying coffee quality and licensing exporters.
Burundi has great wealth that springs from the land and from the hands of the people. The task now is offering that abundance available to the world’s market.