HUYE — The Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Christopher Bazivamo, on Wednesday, launched a modern coffee tissue culture laboratory at the Rwanda Institute of Agricultural Sciences (ISAR) - Rubona station in the Huye district.
The Coffee Tissue Culture Laboratory, the first of its kind in the country is expected to produce 500, 000 healthy coffee plantlets per year.
The lab is expected to produce new and improved coffee varieties that are resistant to environmental extremes, diseases and pests. The new bio-technology unit will also make possible the mass production of coffee plantlets to match the market demands.
The first batch of 10, 000 coffee plantlets will be distributed to model farmers across the country.
Speaking at the ceremony, Bazivamo commended the European Union which through its STABEX programme has committed Rwf.20billion towards promoting the growing of coffee, tea and pyrethrum in the country.
Bazivamo called for the replacement of old coffee trees and increase of the present coffee acreage if the country is to increase its earnings from coffee.
The minister observed that the province has suitable soils for the growing of coffee as evidenced by the recent Cup of Excellence competition in which the twelve best coffee samples out of 24 were selected from Huye and Nyamagabe districts.
The coffee tissue laboratory has been equipped with cutting -edge bio-technology equipment. Two green houses for weaning and dissemination have also been established.
At the function, the head of the European Union delegation in Rwanda, David MacRae said that the establishment of the laboratory is part of a large programme to support the agriculture sector. He added that the lab will produce quality seeds more rapidly than using conventional means.
“The EU is committed to support this sector that continues to be the main source of living for many farmers in the country,” said MacRae.
Alex Kanyankole, the director general of Rwanda Coffee Authority OCIR-Cafe, said that there was an improvement in coffee production in 2008 compared to the preceding years.
“In 2008, we managed to produce 22, 000 tonnes of green coffee fetching US$47million. This year we plan to produce 28, 000 tonnes of coffee,” he said.
According to the director general of ISAR Mark Cyubahiro, the lab is expected to be self financing after the fourth phase of the project funded under the STABEX programme.
“This will be a departure from the past where projects ceased to operate after termination of donor support,” said Cyubahiro.