Rwanda’s specialty coffee production rate moved from almost zero in 2000 to 58 per cent in 2017 and projected to grow to 80 per cent of total coffee produce by 2020.
This is according to statistics from the National Agriculture Exports Development Board (NAEB).
Specialty coffee is one that maintains quality from farm to cup, and scores over 80 points on 100-point scale.
For this to be achieved, all entities involved in the coffee value chain, including farmers and coffee washing stations, have to meet certain standards, according to experts.
The average price of specialty coffee from Rwanda is $4 compared to $2 for non-specialty coffee, NAEB’s coffee division manager, Dr Celestin Gatarayiha, told The New Times.
However, he added that there are some exporters can get up to $8 for specialty coffee depending on the market.
Samuel Kamau, Executive Director of African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA) told The New Times that it refers to differentiated coffee, which includes presentation, branding, grading and background such as where it was grown.
Kamau observed that specialty coffee is up to 10 times more expensive than non-specialty coffee.
NAEB Chief Executive Officer, Ambassador George William Kayonga said that the specialty coffee policy was initiated in 2000 when there were only about two coffee washing stations in the country.
At that time, there was almost zero specialty coffee, in the Rwanda, Gatarayiha said.
Kayonga said that the specialty coffee policy was based on the view that Rwanda could not trade coffee in an ordinary way.
“The policy focused on growing, processing and selling quality coffee,” he said.
About 18 years later, Kayonga said, the country moved from two coffee washing stations to 300 coffee washing stations currently.
“The target is that at least 80 per cent of the entire national coffee produce will be specialty coffee by 2020, the focus is on quality coffee,” he said.
Between July 2017 to June 2018, about $66 million was generated from Rwanda’s overall coffee exports, against $58 million in the previous year.
This is according to Fulgence Nsengiyumva, the State Minister in charge of agriculture at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.
By the end of the current financial year (2018/2019), Rwanda targets to export 24,500 tonnes of coffee, up from 23,000 tonnes last year, according to information from NAEB.