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Farm to Cup 2014: University Students Probe the Economics of Coffee in Rwanda

In May 2014, a team of students from Washington State University and Michigan State University traveled to Kigali, Rwanda to work with students from the University of Rwanda on a research project addressing pressing questions in Rwanda’s coffee sector.

The University of Rwanda’s Faculty of Agriculture hosted the team as a part of the experiential education component of its forthcoming Master of Science in Agribusiness program, developed through a partnership with Michigan State University as part of the Women’s Leadership Program of Higher Education for Development. The inaugural exchange brought together nineteen students from the partner universities to engage in cross-cultural dialogue and collaborative research, paving the way for the integration of experiential education into the curriculum of the MSc program, which began in November 2014.

“Within a day or two it was as if the Rwandan team members had been part of the research team for months,” says Randy Fortenberry, endowed chair of Washington State University’s School of Economic Sciences. “By the time we took a long field trip from Huye in the southern part of the country to the northwest part of the country, we had become one big research organization with everyone focused on collaboration, sharing and learning as much as possible with each outing.”

As a result of the exchange, the participants broadened their knowledge of the coffee industry in Rwanda and expanded their network of colleagues around the world.

The new Master of Science program in agribusiness will promote women’s leadership in agriculture, increase opportunities for export, and train agribusiness professionals with strong analytical and business development skills. This partnership is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development under the Feed the Future initiative. 

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