Twenty-five tonnes of coffee that won the 2018 Cup of Excellence Award fetched over $359,000 (over Rwf311 million) in an online auction held on Friday.
The coffee was auctioned live through the internet to 87 international buyers.
The Cup of Excellence is the most prestigious competition for high-quality coffees. Winning coffees should have scored at least 85% after going through a strict competition conducted by a select group of national and international cuppers and are cupped at least five times during the competition process.
Eric Ruganintwali, the Quality Assurance and Regulatory Division Manager at National Agriculture Exports Development Board (NAEB), and Cup of Excellence country coordinator, told The New Times that this year the highest coffee sold at $41.2 a kilogramme (over Rwf35,000) and the cheapest at $12.12 (over Rwf10,000), while the current marketplace price for non-specialty coffee is around 2$ a kilogramme.
The opening bid prices for the coffee lots were pre-set by NAEB at $12.12 a kilogramme.
The highest bid was offered by Maruyama Coffee – a Japan-based coffee company – for $18.70 per pound, equivalent to $41.22 per kilogramme to Cup of Excellence top-scoring coffee (with 90.53 marks out of 100) produced by ‘Twumba Coffee’ in Karongi District, Western Province.
Twumba Coffee had 2 lots made up of 40 boxes weighing 1.2 metric tonnes, generating more than $48,000 (Rwf41.6 million). It sold the first lot to the Japanese firm, while the second was bought by Austria based Campos Coffee.
Gérard Mutagengwa, Managing Director of Twumba Coffee, said its premium price was a result of good agricultural practice, including nurturing coffee trees, proper fertiliser use, harvesting ripe coffee cherries and taking them to the washing station on time, as well as drying them appropriately. He said the coffee start-up has been producing about 60 tonnes of dried coffee.
“We are targeting to increase our production to about 150 tonnes this year. We have 15,000 coffee seedlings that we want to distribute to farmers so that we can raise the coffee volume and at the same time reinforce the trend in achieving high-quality coffee,” he said.
Farmers to get a larger share of revenues
The generated revenues from the auction serve as a means to primarily reward farmers who made that winning coffee lot (farmers usually get more than 50%), while the rest is divided among Coffee Washing Stations and organisers, Ruganintwali said.
Commenting on the current prices and earnings, which are lower than the previous ones, Ruganintwali said that the underlying factors include the volatility of coffee prices on the international market, which is very low this year, and fewer bidders compared to previous years.