When coffee farmers in Karongi District set out to form a cooperative and start a coffee washing station to help boost their income, the first challenge they met was raising capital and finding technical guidance on coffee farming.
However, these coffee farmers could soon see a turn of fortunes, thanks to a project funded by the Government of Japan (GOJ) that is working to strengthen the coffee value chain in the district.
The technical cooperation project called "Project for Strengthening Coffee Value Chain in Rwanda" is expected to improve the quality of coffee and supply chain and boost farmers' incomes, according to His Excellency Mr. Takayuki Miyashita, the Japanese Ambassador to Rwanda, who visited the district to see how Japan's cooperation is contributing to the coffee sector development in Rwanda.
The Japanese ambassador was speaking during a tour of KOPAKAKI Coffee Cooperative in Karongi on Tuesday, November 27, which involved officials from the National Agriculture Export Development Board (NAEB), GOJ and local coffee farmers.
"I am happy to see the impact of Japan's project on the coffee farmers and how it is strengthening the value chain. The Government of Japan has been supporting the coffee value chain among other cooperation in the agriculture sector in Rwanda.
Since 2017, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in partnership with NEAB started a technical cooperation project which aims at building a resilient coffee value chain," said Amb. Miyashita
According to Dr Naohiro Matsui, the chief advisor of the project, the state of the project will help reduce post-harvest losses, enhance value addition, increase competitiveness in the market, and thus make coffee business more profitable.
Sandrine Urujeni, the Deputy CEO at NAEB, said the project is expected to boost exports and create more than 100 new jobs because it provides technical guidance on coffee farming management such as seeding, farm lay out, fertilizers everything involved in coffee production.
Urujeni thanked GOJ for its continued support and urged farmers to embrace modern farming technologies and value addition to become more profitable.
NAEB has been emphasizing value addition and encouraging farmers and cooperatives to take advantage of coffee washing stations to boost the quality of coffee exports.
Ambassador Miyashita also toured the KOPAKAKI coffee farm with the media and other stakeholders in the sector including members of Rwanda Coffee Cooperative Federation (RCCF).
The project has been working with two pilot cooperatives and instructing them in efficient ways to grow coffee with the advice of Japanese coffee experts including Mr. Jose Kawashima, a top notch coffee specialist from Japan.
The field visit
The delegates together with the ambassador visited the coffee nurseries and had a chance to inspect the seed beds, the coffee washing station and leant how the project is helping and training their coffee farmers.
While explaining to the delegates about the new methods of making a modern coffee nursery bed, Jean Claude Harerimana the field officer in Bwishura Sector said that what they have learnt from Mr. Kawashima is amazing.
"As you can see here, these are two different varieties from two different nursery beds because of the way each was planted. There is a big difference in the two plants though they were planted in the nurseries at the same time. The methods will definitely help us double or triple our harvest and the quality of our coffee will improve automatically," said Harerimana.
After the demonstration by the field officer, the delegates also visited an experimental coffee field, where Dr. Matsui was instructing the coffee farmers in collaboration with Dr. Mario Serracin, another Japanese coffee specialist.