26 March 2014

Rwanda: Attract More People Into Coffee Growing

THE National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) last week announced an increase in the coffee farm-gate indicative price (the minimum price payable to farmers) from Rwf142 to Rwf200 per kilogramme.

The development is timely relief for sector players because some farmers had started abandoning the crop, arguing that they were investing a lot of time and money in its production but getting little in return.

The new rate should be an incentive for farmers and other stakeholders along the coffee supply chain to observe proper handling practices to maintain a high quality product. However, sector regulators should be on the lookout for those who harvest immature coffee cherries as this compromises quality and hurts the value of Rwanda's coffee on the international market.

NAEB should strengthen its monitoring unit to ensure that farmers do not engage in practices that could compromise quality. That way, the country will be able to export high quality coffee and fetch premium rates.

This translates into more foreign exchange to support development programmes and help deliver the Economic Development Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II) targets. Also, this could be the right time for NAEB to launch coffee growing campaigns across the country to boost production and satisfy market demand. Some people are reluctant to grow coffee, saying the rewards are minimal.

Others abandoned the crop accusing dealers of 'cheating' them. So, such people will need to be encouraged to take up coffee growing, and make them understand the long-term benefits both at the household and national levels. This will also require the intervention of local leaders, among other stakeholders, to attract those 'Sitting on the fence' back to coffee growing.

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