Coffee farmers and washers have been urged to put their houses in order and quickly submit samples for this year’s Cup of Excellence competition, the most prestigious award for the finest quality coffee.
George Kayonga, the director general National Agricultural Board (NAEB) said during a coffee stakeholders’ strategic meeting on Monday that participation in the competition will boost online coffee sales.
“In order for us to earn more revenues from online coffee auctions, we must be ready to submit samples early and see to it that most of them win in the Cup of Excellence,” he said.
Rwanda earned over Rwf149m from an online auction last year from 11 tons of specialty coffees. Specialty coffee, the best flavor coffee beans produced under special weather conditions at high altitudes of 2000-6000 feet above sea level, last year traded at $21.08 (Rwf13, 936) per kg.
Eric Ruganintwali, the co-ordinator of the Rwanda Cup of Excellence and head of quality assurance department at NAEB has said that only coffees that won accolades during the August Cup of Excellence competition were sold to the highest bidders.
He said that considering low international prices of coffee last year, stakeholders needed to take advantage of this platform to earn more revenues.
Last year, international prices fell to about $3.67 (Rwf 2,494) from $6 (Rwf 4,044) per kg during the 2012 season. Semi washed coffee dropped to as low as $2.6 (Rwf1, 752) per kg.
Total revenues from coffee in 2013 stood at $55.2 million (Rwf37.2 bn) from 19,969 tons exported, less than the $69.5 million ($46.8 bn) that was earned in 2012.
“The earlier the farmers submit their samples the more the country’s coffee is positioned to be bought by the western market as they get their holidays,” he said.
Every year, Rwanda organises Cup of Excellence competitions and awards the winners for the best coffees.
This competition encourages quality production and attracts markets for Rwandan coffee from across the world, hence increasing revenue.
The winning coffees are chosen by a group of national and international cuppers and are cupped at least five times during the competition. During the fourth edition last year, only 15 out of 159 lots that entered the competition won prizes.