This year’s second coffee zoning campaign has linked farmers to their buyers in an event that included a coffee cupping in Ruhango district, the Southern Province.
The event also coincided with the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF) army week whose representatives shared the cup of coffee with farmers and coffee buyers.
“We should complement each other as Rwandans in the coffee harvesting activity. Coffee is an important crop in the Rwandan economy. The youth should be help in coffee growing. Farmers should add value to call for increased prices. Factories are working well and others should be supported to emulate the better,” Minister of state for Agriculture Fulgence Nsengiyumva said.
At the event were Ruhango district Mayor, military officials and the Rwanda minister of state for agriculture Fulgence Nsengiyumva, coffee farmers and coffee traders which took the moment to taste the Rwandan blends.
The linkage between coffee farmers and buyers was meant to avoid extortionist middlemen and thus pool the costs spent on them rather of the fixed price at the farmers’ market.
“The campaign is meant to sensitize the farmers and buyers and Rwandans on the importance of dealing coffee farming and trade which helps them ensure quality improvement and better management,” said Celestine Gatarayiha Head of Coffee at National Agricultral Export Development Board.
Farmers said that coffee business is lucrative but still have challenges like persistent pests and diseases.
“We have challenges like pests but have for the last seasons had government help with pesticides which have been helpful. Coffee business is commencing well even on prices,” said Laurent Karambizi a coffee farmer in Ruhango district.
A kilogram of coffee is now Rwf 280 and a coffee task force works to ensure that farmers sell on desirable prices.
Ministry of Agriculture representative at the event said that second coffee zoning campaign is in respect of the government’s intents to increase the value of coffee in all aspects.
There are currently more than 229 coffee washing stations across the country and the number could increase once a new policy is implemented.
The country exported 3,310,339 kilos of coffee during the first quarter of 2016 up from 1,824,629 kilos during the same period in 2015.
In general, Rwanda’s coffee production capacity increased by 0.4 percent.
NAEB has been emphasising value addition and encouraging farmers and cooperatives to take advantage of coffee washing stations to boost the quality of coffee exports, the statement from NAEB indicated.
More than 400,000 farmers depend on coffee farming for their livelihood.
Rwanda exports 42% of its coffee to Switzerland, 12.4% to United Kingdom, 20.9% to the United States, 5.8% to South Africa, 0.5% Germany and 1.5% to South Korea, among others.