Following the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, newly formed coffee growing co-operatives have not only provided an income for people, but also helped to heal the divide between Hutus and Tutsis. Paying a good price for coffee benefits farmers, their families, and their communities in a variety of ways: farmers are better able to feed themselves and their family members, to send their children to school, and to repair or improve their homes.
In addition, coffee farmers are experiencing social benefits from the transformation of the coffee sector. Hutus and Tutsis working together now have opportunities to interact and are finding an alternative path to reconciliation. By working together in cooperatives, farmers experience greater economic and life satisfaction which is correlated to lower levels of distrust, greater levels of forgiveness and reduced ethnic distance.
There is extensive evidence that positive interactions between antagonistic groups can reduce levels of prejudice and hostility. Therefore, positive contact is considered one of the most effective strategies for reducing inter-group conflict. When contact between groups in post-conflict societies is intense and deep, it can promote reconciliation and help prevent a renewal of violence. If formerly antagonistic groups find ways to cooperate, they may develop a new shared identify that creates a sense that a more collaborative future is possible.
It is possible that collaboration, while difficult to quantify, is one of the most important benefits of Rwandan co-operative coffee growing.