Emile comes to Paris from a coffee growers’ family. His family acquired land in 1971 in the Ngozi province – one of the most merited and recognized provinces for high quality coffee in Burundi. As a teenager, Emile studied full-time but helped out on the family farm during the holidays – picking, mulching and pruning. He eventually graduated from the University of Burundi’s High Agriculture Institute. The beginning of Emile’s career was spent working on large-scale projects aimed at reforming the country’s whole agriculture sector. From 1988-1995, Emile was involved in a World Bank funded project that was administered through the Ministry of Agriculture. The aim of this project was to collect data of all Burundi’s crops for the purpose of future planning and reformation.
In 1996, Emile began to specialize in the coffee sub-sector; his first position in coffee was SOGESTAL Ngozi’s general manager. All Burundi’s coffee washing stations (CWS) are grouped into five regions and the Ngozi region oversees 28 CWSes. As general manager, Emile’s chief responsibility was to coordinate and organize all wet processing activities amongst the CWSes. In addition, he was charged with introducing, promoting and selling coffee from SOGESTAL Ngozi to international markets.
The East African Fine Coffee Association (EAFCA, now simply African Fine Coffee Association, AFCA) exists to first, increase quality of coffee in participating countries and second, to promote and present coffee from participating countries to international buyers. Burundi became a member in 2000, as one of six of the earliest members of this body. From 2003-2004, Emile acted as Burundi’s country coordinator to EAFCA.
From 2004 to 2007, Emile worked with a variety of associations and organizations in Burundi aiming to increase knowledge and best practice of high quality coffee production. He has worked to implement UTZ certification with SOLIDARIDAD, has consulted for the Regulatory Authority of Burundi’s Coffee Sector (ARFIC) and various other groups, in order to develop training materials on best agriculture practices in coffee.
Beginning in 2007, Emile started working solely on the Burundi Agribusiness Program, as Coffee Value Chain Manager. In this capacity, Emile oversees improvement in production, productivity and quality from grower to exporter. He works with coffee actors at all levels with the overarching aim of linking quality in the field to quality in the cup. In addition, Emile works with growers, cooperatives and certification bodies to obtain certification and also helps develop new grower cooperatives.