Coffee farmers and processors from across the world will meet in Rwanda in 2021 to assess the challenges in the coffee value chain
Kigali will host the third World Coffee Producers Forum that will bring together 1,500 people from over 40 coffee-producing countries.
The meeting, which will be held in July, will also attract industry leaders, economists and analysts particularly to forge solutions to the challenges that farmers who produce raw and unroasted coffee face.
Since inauguration in 2017, the biennial event was previously held in Colombia and Brazil.
Issa Nkurunziza, Traditional Commodities Division Manager at the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), said that the fact that Kigali was chosen to host the event is a demonstration of the country's good ranking in coffee production.
"Given that this is a global event, producers from Rwanda will also get a chance to interact with other producers from all over the world and share experiences," he said.
Among other global awards, in 2018, Rwandan coffee scooped both the "Best of the Best" and "Coffee Lover's Choice" awards in a competition that attracted brands from nine countries.
In the 2018/2019 fiscal year, Rwanda exported 21,000 tonnes of coffee out of the 69,000 tonnes that were produced.
In this fiscal year, which runs till June 30, the country targets $80 million form coffee export revenues.
On the basis of volumes, coffee exports are projected to reach 26,000 tonnes, according to statistics from NAEB.
Among the key drivers of Rwanda's coffee exports is the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) that was launched in 2018, opening doors for small businesses in Africa to take part in cross-border electronic trade.
Several brands of Rwandan single-origin coffee are already available for sale on this platform.
What are the pressing issues?
Angelique Karekezi, the Managing Director of Rwanda Small Holder Specialty Coffee Company (RWASHOSCCO)-a farmer-owned coffee marketing, exporting, and roasting company-says that the sector is still grappling low prices and climate change, which affects production.
"Though the pricing has improved compared to previous years, coffee farmers are still getting unfair prices as compared to other players in the value chain," she said. "The other common challenge is the climate change issue that affects our productivity in terms of quality and quantity."
At the beginning of this year, the government increased farmgate coffee prices from Rwf190 to Rwf216 per kilogramme.
However, on average, the price of coffee on the international market is between $2 (about Rwf1,887) and $5 (about Rwf4,719).
Karekezi noted that the upcoming event will be an opportunity to learn from world-renowned coffee producers on how to overcome the current challenges.