Almost every inch of Musumba is covered in the silvery-grey of eucalyptus trees. Smoke billows up from the valley below where brick makers are hard at work. Beans, cassava, potato, sweet potato, maize, peas, bananas, onions and tea are grown by farming families in the hill’s rich soils. The canopies of banana trees that surround farmers’ fields create a cool climate for coffee to grow in.
The journey from Musumba to the washing station is a long and tiring one. Farmers have to climb up steep hills and back down narrow dirt paths to reach Bukeye. They walk through some of the most beautiful scenery, but have no time to stop and appreciate it, concentrating on the heavy load of cherries resting on their heads. They pass two other washing stations nestled in Musumba’s rolling hills, choosing to travel the distance to Bukeye because with Long Miles they say they have found hope.
Unlike most other regions in Burundi, this hill was left almost untouched by war. It was a peaceful island in the midst of cyclical violence and destruction. Despite this, Musumba has been our greatest challenge, with many old coffee trees and run-down farms. Yet, Musumba is a hill we won’t give up on because it holds so much potential. Antestia bugs, the colorful critters linked to spreading the potato defect, thrive in the conditions found on Musumba hill.
Coffee scouts Janet, Renilde, Tite and Aline started working with Musumba farmers, teaching them how to keep the antestia bugs at bay. With the help of the scouts, healthier coffee trees have been planted and farmers are now planting shade trees among their coffee.
THE SCOUTS: The scouts’ vision is to continue empowering farmers to be innovative and self-sufficient in the future. Together, they want to motivate the youth by showing the possibilities that come with growing coffee.
FUTURE: Farming families dream of development on the hill they call home. They hope it will result in a buzzing community with jobs and a brighter future. They look forward to the day that there is electricity in their homes and on the hill, making it safe to travel to neighboring communities after the sun goes down.