Rwanda's coffee export revenues rose marginally in March to $2.4 million (about Rwf2.02 billion), up from $2.1 million (about Rwf1.77 billion) recorded during the same period in 2016, the National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) monthly report indicates. This was despite a drop in coffee prices on international market to $2.36 per kilo, down from $2.40 per kilo in March 2016.
The March coffee export earnings represent a 9 per cent increase in value that NAEB attributed to high volumes of coffee sold during the month or a growth of 11 per cent compared to what was exported in March 2016.
The country sold 1,008,501 kilogrammes of coffee over the month under review, up from 906,251 kilogrammes sold in March last year, the report indicates.
Rwanda's coffee buyers include Switzerland, United Kingdom, the United States, South Africa, Germany and South Korea.
However, coffee production decreased on annual basis by 12.7 per cent, a situation NAEB attributed to the prolonged dry spell the country experienced last year.
The government in March this year set the farmgate coffee price at Rwf246 per kilogramme, up from Rwf150 previously.
Overall, Rwanda produced more than 22 million kilogrammes of coffee in 2016 compared to 21.8 million kilos in 2015. The agro-export body attributed the increase to a conducive weather and adoption of modern farming skills by farmers, which helped improve coffee handling and quality along the value chain.
NAEB has been emphasising value addition and encouraging farmers and co-operatives to take advantage of coffee washing stations to enhance quality.
The board is implementing a five-year strategic plan aimed at achieving an annual average export growth rate of 29 per cent, translating to $104.3 million by 2018, from $60.9 million in 2013.
The plan also promotes value addition and seeks to enhance productivity to make the country's coffee industry more competitive and beneficial to more than 400,000 farmers whose livelihood depends on coffee.
NAEB said the objective is to increase productivity from 2.4kg per coffee tree in 2013 to 3.1kg per tree by 2018. The board also seeks to increase fully-washed coffee to 71 per cent by 2018.