Agency For Transformation

Rwanda:Coffee farmers urged to improve quality

Coffee farmers have been challenged to improve quality to earn better prices. Angelique Karekezi, the managing director of Rwanda Small Holder Specialty Coffee Company (RWASHOSCCO), said farmers must observe proper agronomic practices and improve bean handling along the value chain.

Karekezi attributed the low prices of coffee to poor quality of the beans.

“Quality attracts the better buyers and helps make Rwanda’s coffee more competitive on the international market. The better the quality, the better the price,” she said.

Karekezi was responding to complaints from coffee farmers co-operatives about the low prices paid to farmers during RWASHOSCCO 10th anniversary celebrations in Kigali. The event was marked under the theme, “Celebrating specialty coffee in Rwanda”.

Anastase Minani, the president of RWASHOSCCO, which represents six cooperatives, said Dukunde Kawa Cooperative in Gakenke District pays Rwf200 per kilogramme compared to Rwf300 a kilo in 2015. Theobald Rukeratabaro, the president of COCAGI Cooperative in Rusizi District, said farmers are paid Rwf150 a kilo, down from Rwf200 last year.

Speaking at the event, Tony Nsanganira, the State Minister for Agriculture, urged farmers to continue working together and find ways to improve quality and solve other challenges facing them.

“The government is committed to transforming the agricultural sector. So, coffee farmers should co-operate and work hard despite the different challenges, including climate change and price changes,” Nsanganira said.

The event was attended by John Kabakire, the National Agricultural Export Development Board zone export co-ordinator, Tim Shilling, the executive director of World Coffee Research, as well as international partners, buyers and representatives from RWASHOSCOO member cooperatives.

Rwanda exported 18,793 tonnes of coffee last year, generating over $62 million in revenue. The production and revenues in 2015 increased by 35 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively, compared to 2014, according to figures from NAEB. This year the country projects to produce 29,000 tonnes of coffee, up from 22,000 tonnes of coffee last year. The country mainly produces Arabica coffee, standing at 98 per cent, and robusta coffee at only 2 per cent.

Source:The New Times