With the liberalization of the coffee industry in Burundi government owned washing stations are being sold, and increasing numbers of them are now under the ownership of private operators. Coffee farmers are engaging with international coffee buyers and working together to improve coffee quality, resulting in higher prices to farmers. In an effort to create and maintain sustainable coffee relationships the direct trade business of coffee has been developed on the basis of transparent contracts between producers and buyers.
Direct trade of Burundi coffee is limited to those coffees that the Burundi’s regulatory authority, ARFIC, qualifies as specialty. For those coffees, buyers are free to develop trade with producer groups and to negotiate coffee purchases with complete transparency. Sales of specialty coffee are conducted by individual SOGESTALS (management entities) representing producers at coffee washing stations, or through the individual or cooperative owners of private washing stations.
In either case, direct sales of Burundi coffee require a licensed exporter. After selecting an exporter, buyers can communicate their requests for coffee samples they wish to cup for evaluation. Once the buyer decides on a coffee and reaches agreement with the seller on a price, the exporter prepares the contract and is responsible for all necessary steps in its fulfillment, including the milling, transmittal of pre shipment samples, preparation of export documents, obtaining coffee clearances from ARFIC, arrangements for overland shipping to ports and securing payment for the coffee from the buyer.
Coffee auctions in Burundi are now conducted on an irregular basis. A Sales Committee called “Comité de Commercialisation” is represented by SOGESTALS, dry mills, ARFIC and the Coffee Growers Confederation. Together they determine what coffees will be sold at auction. The Committee follows stocks of parchment coffee and when it reaches a certain level the Committee schedules an auction at ARFIC headquarters in Bujumbura. Bidders are notified so that they can cup samples prior to the auction. The Sales Committee accepts bids via e-mail as well as the traditional paper bids at the time of the auction.
Burundi green coffee is exported by means of two major ports on the Indian Ocean, the Kenyan port of Mombasa and the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam. Green coffee exported by means of Dar es Salaam is shipped from the port of Bujumbura in Burundi to the port of Kigoma in Tanzania at which point it is transfered to rail or truck for its final leg to Dar es Salaam. Green coffee exported by means of Mombasa is transported directly from the warehouses in Burundi to Mombasa by truck.