Does Rwanda consume enough of its coffee?

Rwandans consume about 3 per cent of the coffee produced iin the country. Emmanuel Kwizera.

Rwanda consumes an estimated 3 per cent of the coffee produced in the country and exports 97 per cent according to information from the National Agricultural Export Board.

With countries like the United States of America, Switzerland, and the U.K being key destinations for Rwandan coffee, the country exported 24000 metric tonnes last year, fetching about $67 million.

Less local consumption and a very high exportation rate is a common trend for African countries, except Ethiopia which consumes about 50 percent of its coffee locally.

Speaking in an interview with The New Times, Dassa Daniso, an exhibitor from the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority said that as a result of high local consumption, Ethiopia’s coffee industry is not much affected by drops in international coffee prices.

“Sometimes coffee prices can go very low, but because of our internal consumption we can manage the prices,” he said.

He however hinted that sometimes they discourage further growth of local consumption because it competes with exports.

Vincent Karenzi the Production Manager at Rwanda Trading Company, a coffee company in Rwanda said that they only sell 1 per cent of the coffee they process to the local market.

For him, the coffee prices are often not very affordable to the ordinary Rwandan, a fact that makes them opt for alternatives such as tea.

For instance, he said a cup of coffee can cost up to Rwf 3000, which not many can afford.

He said that the prices are as a result of the processes coffee goes through to be ready for the market.

According to Karenzi, a kilogram of coffee beans that cost several hundred francs from the farm ends up costing Rwf 8000 RWF by the time it’s processed.

He called for increased sensitization to Rwandans on coffee consumption which would gradually see growth in consumption.

Kenya locally consumes about 5 per cent of its coffee. According to Donald Wakaba, a delegate from Kyandu Trading Company Limited, a coffee company in Kenya, the trend used to be lower but has since improved with sensitization.

“We used to consume about 1 per cent locally, but the government and institutions has been conducting sensitization campaigns and awareness drives to increase consumption,” he said.

He said that companies should try to put into account people who earn less and find ways of having quality products for all income categories.

Antonio Pinheiro, an official from Supremo NV, a Belgian coffee company echoed the importance of Rwandans consuming local coffee, as opposed to importing coffee which is often of lower quality.

Marie Kankindi, a coffee farmer from Gisagara District admitted that farmers know little about coffee consumption culture with some never having tasted their product.