The European Union (EU) through the ministry of finance has injected over €2.5million in training coffee farmers to improve the production of high-quality coffee.
The 4-year Coffee Value Chain Development (CVCD) project will be implemented by Istituto per la Cooperazione Univesitaria (ICU), together with Kahawatu Foundation and Positive Planet International who also financially contributed to the project.
The project is aimed at contributing to the enhancement of the Rwandan coffee value chain by ensuring that the offering matches the international demand and maximises impacts for coffee producers.
Through the CVCD project, ICU contracted VUNA Origin Consulting to conduct a global and national market research to back up a list of recommendations to ensure those project interventions are well targeted in capturing trends and opportunities for the Rwandan coffee sector.
The findings were approved during a validation workshop on findings on international trends for Rwandan coffee held on Monday December 1st, 2020,
To implement the findings, the meeting of stakeholders revealed that the project will train 14,000 coffee farmers and staff of 20 coffee washing stations across the country.
ICU Project Coordinator, Julia Anbalagan said that the project started a month ago to improve three coffee value chain components offering farmers with coffee nurseries inputs, improving financial management and infrastructure development at washing stations.
“We also have a component on market access where we will work closely with National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) to analyse gaps of what is needed and implement accordingly,” Anbalagan said.
To have Rwandan coffee compete on the international market, Anbalagan said that farmers will be equipped with skills that will enable them to engage with international buyers, provide coffee samples, the presentation, communication as a part of a package that will also add on training at processing or farmer level.
Though the project cannot influence international coffee market prices, it will help farmers and CWS to improve the quality of coffee they produce. Anbalagan said the project specifically looked at the European markets and the feedback and recommendation they heard was purely based on European (coffee) markets.
She also said that the project will at farmer level help them increase production per coffee tree where for instance instead of two kilos, farmers can harvest four kilos from the same tree with the same cost of production.
In four year, ICU is expected to handle the training on quality and market access package, Kahawatu Foundation will deal with farmer training at the farm level, while Positive Planet International will deal with the financial management, access to finance segment.
For benefiting farmers like Eliabu Bizimana, from Gishyita Coffee cooperative in Gishyita sector in Karongi district this is good news since he has not been able to calculate how much he invests in the coffee and how much losses he makes due to harvest low quality coffee seeds.
He said that besides his own lack of skills, just as many farmers in the cooperative Bizimana sells his coffee at Rwf230 per kilo but at the end of the day even the cooperative that collects 300-400 tons annually cannot sell on international markets due to lack of certification.
NAEB official in charge of planning, Corneille Ntakirutimana said that Rwanda’s coffee exports in the last three years stood at an average of 20,000-23,000 tons annually earning the country between $60-69million.
Even with this potential and incoming CVCD project support, Ntakirutimana said: “Instead of taking on quantity competition with other countries, Rwanda will focus on quality of coffee where we are sure we can outcompete others.”
Ntakirutimana said that by the end of the four-year project, Rwanda will be earning $95million from coffee annual exports.
Statistics of the National Agricultural Exports Development Board show that Rwanda’s coffee export revenues increased to more than $ 69 million in 2018 from around $ 64 million the previous year.
Rwanda’s coffee is exported to the United Arab Emirates, Netherlands, USA, France, Belgium and the United Kingdom.
The Rwandan embassy in the UK said in November that the UK is a major market for Rwanda’s delicious coffee.