Fair Trade Africa (FTA) has awarded the top ten best coffee producers from Rwanda and DRC. Fairtrade Africa is the umbrella organization representing Fairtrade certified producers in Africa and a member of Fairtrade International (FI). It aims at effectively representing producers within the international Fairtrade system and to contribute to the livelihood improvement of African producers by increasing access to markets. In their drive towards facilitating market access, FTA has organized for the first time in Rwanda, Kombe la Dhahabu Coffee Quality Contest where Rwanda, Congo & Burundi certified producers were invited to participate. Only ten producers were awarded during a contest in which 28 applications were received. The awarding ceremony took place on the third and final day of the competition on Friday, September 17. The winners were crowned “Specialty Coffee Ambassadors” and they will be sponsored to attend big specialty coffee events so that they can gain marketing and business skills, and create market linkages. In addition to that, their coffee samples are distributed in Europe and North America among other consumer locations. Getahun Gebrekidan, the regional programs manager in charge of coffee and tea at Fairtrade Africa says that his institution wants to change the popular narrative that most consumers buy from Africa to support poor African farmers. “Most coffee consumers come to buy in Africa, not because of high quality, or cheap price, they think they are coming to support poor farmers somewhere in Africa,” said Getahun Gebrekidan. “And that is the narrative that we want to change.” We have good coffee, good volume and Africa needs to be known for high quality coffee, added Gebrekidan. Gebrekidan also reiterates that once the quality is boosted, it will also foster local consumption since the local coffee consumption rate in East Africa stands at 10 per cent due to the low quality and high coffee prices, however, a change has been observed. “You can see that Rwandan consumers have begun to understand things, if more coffee shops are opening, that is a good opportunity of promoting local consumption and quality coffee production,” Gebrekidan said. Among the winners, Abaterankunga ba Sholi scooped the two first positions in the contest. The Muhanga-based cooperative is made up of 451 members. Aimable Nshimiye, the cooperative’s representative, recounts how their cooperative has fronted quality of coffee to scoop an award from the contest. “We have equipped our members with skills of how a coffee with high quality is prepared from the farm to the market, through irrigation, weeding and adding in more fertilizers,” he commented. “We also work in groups and interact with different local agricultural administrators and conduct regular meetings, to acquire the needed guidance and make sure we are always in contact with them throughout the whole season. Throughout this competition, Nshimiye is optimistic that Rwandan coffee will be promoted at the international level. Syliver Cyuzuzo Nkundabagenzi, the head of COKANKO in Rutsiro District that scooped the third position also said that it is pushing them to do more. “We are motivated to keep training 295 farmers that make up our cooperative and facilitate them to get a better quality produce,” he noted.