The National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) has launched a three month campaign to promote Rwanda’s premium export commodity, coffee.
A survey by this institution indicates that Rwanda coffee is grown on 40,000 hectares. Moreover 24% of the coffee trees are thirty years old and even elder, thus production shrinking from five kilograms to one kilogram per coffee tree.
To replace elderly coffee trees, the three month long campaign was launched in Huye district, Southern Province last week. The campaign will proceed in several parts of the country this month.
According to Alexis Nkurunziza, Traditional Commodities Division Manager at NAEB, over three million old coffee trees in the country are set to be replaced as the government seeks to increase crop productivity and subsequently fetch more foreign exchange revenue from one of the country’s major cash crops.
“It belongs to everyone to work on this. The more you take care of coffee trees, the more production and money you get,” Nkurunziza said.
“Farmers need to sacrifice and uproot old trees for them to get better production in the future. Otherwise the production will reduce significantly.”
If farmers take this advice, it is expected that total production will increase to 31,000 metric tons from the current 21,000 tons annually.
New coffee seeds to boost production
In contrast to the present variations which allow harvesting to begin after three years, farmers can now purchase a new coffee variety (RABC15 variety of Coffea Arabica), which begins producing two years after planting.
The new variety is believed to be disease resistant and more productive, and is expected to increase coffee production in the country as well as fetch more revenues for farmers, according to Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB).
“We have to be patient and replace them, otherwise we shall not get any coffee in the future,” Vedaste Bizimana, a coffee farmer in Huye said.
Rwanda exported 16.8 million kilograms of coffee in 2021, bringing in over $61.5 million, an increase of 1.83% compared to $60.4 million earned from 19.7 million kilograms the year before.
By 2024, the nation wants to produce 31,000 tonnes of green coffee and earn $95 million, according to NAEB data.
In Rwanda, the livelihoods of nearly 400,000 coffee farmers are reliant on the crop.