The area is home to the Bakonzo tribe, a people who have farmed the foothills of the Rwenzori for as long as they can remember. The high altitude, fertile soils and plentiful rainfall provide perfect growing conditions for Arabica coffee. Coffee offers the Bakonzo farmers a stable income that allows them to support their families and develop their homes. The coffee is grown under the shade of banana trees, while the mixed farms also produce cassava, maize, beans and groundnuts for local consumption and additional income.
Most farmers have around 1 hectare of land, and all work on the farm is done by hand, usually by immediate family members. Families work together in groups, usually community based but sometimes also extended family groups, to process and market their coffee, an approach known as ‘share farming’. This helps them to improve processing, better control quality and increases their marketing ability.
During the harvest season, Kyagalanyi encourages farmers to deliver cherries to their new, state-of-the-art wet mill instead of hand pulping on their farm. This has given the programme increased control over processing activities, which can be challenging in the region as rains during the harvest season are common. Most farmers live up to 50 kilometres away from the washing station. Due to the long distances, Kyagalanyi has a truck that offers free transport services that visits every farmer group 1-2 times per week during harvest season. As the coffee trees flower multiple times, the harvest season is quite long (4-5 months). Farmers normally pick coffee at least once every week.
This coffee was processed using the natural method. Once delivered the coffee is floated, and is then moved to dry on raised African beds inside greenhouses. It will stay here for around 15 days, and drying is controlled by turning the coffee regularly and maintaining an equal depth of cherries on the beds. The coffee will dry until it reaches optimal humidity.