Farmers in the troubled country of Rwanda are breathing a sigh of relief thanks to the Project Rwanda 'Coffee-Bike' program, which aims to alleviate the costs and maximize efficiency when transporting coffee beans. Usually, farmers can spend up to 12 hours transporting fresh beans to a washing station. In the valuable time between picking and washing, much of the coffee bean quality is lost due to prolonged travel times.
Project Rwanda was founded by Tom Ritchey after visiting the African country back in 2005. Ritchey and a board of like-minded individuals commit their time and effort to promoting the practical uses of the bicycle. According to its mission statement, "Project Rwanda is committed to furthering the economic development of Rwanda through initiatives based on the bicycle as a tool and symbol of hope. Our goal is use the bike to help boost the Rwandan economy as well as re-brand Rwanda as a beautiful and safe place to do business and visit freely."
The Project Rwanda 'Coffee-Bike' program gives coffee farmers better transportation, allowing them to take their yields to washing stations much faster. This is important because farmers can take anywhere from six to 12 hours to transport their loads, which results in bacteria fermenting on the bean and deteriorating the overall quality.
With bicycles provided by Project Rwanda, transport times are drastically reduced, resulting in higher quality coffee beans. In turn, this higher quality product allows farmers to charge 15 cents more on the dollar for each pound of green coffee sold.
The bicycles themselves are contracted out by Project Rwanda to foreign companies that manufacture them at a cost effective price, while a "collaborating agency actual funds the purchase, delivery and distribution of the bikes."
The main goal for the Project Rwanda 'Coffee-Bike' program is to help local farmers overcome economic strife while promoting the natural beauty of rural Rwanda.
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