COOTHEGAB (Tea Growers’ cooperative of Gatare and Buruhukiro) was established in 2008 with the objective of introducing tea farming in the region formerly known as Mushubi now Gatare and Buruhukiro Sector in Nyamagabe District, south province of Rwanda through the initiative of PDCRE (Project de Development de Culture des Rentes et d’exportation), now turned PRICE (Project for Rural Income through Exports), a partner of NAEB (National Agriculture Export Development Board) and MINAGRI.
It all started in 2004 with nursery farming, telling farmers about the benefits of tea markets and aiding them in tea plants. The project Planted over 30 hectares and helped local farmers to grow tea and has been ongoing for several years.
COOTHEGAB now has 1498 members and 630 hectares of tea plantations, with the mission of providing high-quality member products to its partner in a sustainable manner, resulting in economic empowerment for its members.
COOTHEGAB’s collaboration with MTC (Mushubi Tea Company) has resulted in improved and sustainable green leaf production and the cooperative has begun a 280-hectare tea plantation expansion project in Musebeya and Gatare sectors, with nursery preparations currently underway.
COOTHEGAB has benefited greatly from Mushubi Tea Company as a partner, including good agricultural practices, fertilizer supply, buying leaf at a fair price, collection and timely delivery of high-quality green leaf, and several other projects.
The cooperative has an annual total production of over 2 million kilograms of green leaves, and the cooperative’s goal for the coming years is to increase production by implementing agricultural best practices, so that total annual production per hectare reaches 8 or 9 tons of green leaf.
The Cooperative is fully committed to collaborating closely with its members in order to achieve success by :
Providing guidance, advice, and training on good agricultural practices to increase production ;
Strengthening and improving members’ families’ livelihoods through various types of productivity.
Help members have access to loans through the cooperative and Sacco bank
Loan payment in exchange of tea yields
Assists all members with medical bill coverage (mutuelle de sante) and enrollment in EJO HEZA insurance.
COOTHEGAB has established an ECD (Early Childhood Development) center in Gatare Sector in collaboration with UNICEF and NAEB called Ikirezi, which is located within walking distance of the tea plantation.
The ECD center was established to improve the health and well-being of tea pluckers’ children, allowing the cooperative and pluckers to increase productivity as a result.
While the focus is on work in the tea plantation and children are cared for without concern for their safety, the ECD center provides enormous benefit.