Rwandan women's coffee goes on sale

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Coffee beans forming world map on burlap

Supermarket giant Sainsbury's has launched the first fairtrade coffee produced solely by women in Rwanda to be on sale at a major retailer in this country.

The Kopakama Ejo Heza ground coffee carries a premium to support women growers, many of whom were affected by the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Many of the co-operative's 247 women lost their husbands in the violence and now work on a communal farm.

The first harvest has gone into Sainsbury's Taste the Difference coffee.

Judith Batchelar, director of Sainsbury's brand, said: "Kopakama Fairtrade coffee illustrates the vital role women play in agriculture across the world and especially in Africa, where 66% of smallholder farmers are women.

"I'm glad that the hard work of the Ejo Heza project, known as 'better tomorrow', resulted in the launch of such a great coffee."

Leonille Mukankwiro, a Kopakama member, said: "My husband was a member of the co-operative and so the coffee cherries were delivered to Kopakama in his name.

"Every year when we got paid we would fight - I didn't know how much money we got or how it got spent. So I decided to become a member myself, in my own right. Things are much better now. Having control over the income is a big improvement for me and the family."

The announcement was made at the end of Fairtrade Fortnight, an annual event to celebrate the growing number of fairtrade products sold in the UK.

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