Poor harvest-handling has been identified as one of the major factors threatening the quality of Rwandan coffee at the international market.
Jose Kawashima, the president of Mi Cafeto, the main coffee dealer in Japan said logistics is the main challenge faced by coffee industry in Rwanda.
He said this during a seminar on how to improve coffee quality right from the site, propose possible model of grading and marketing system for Rwandan coffee and discuss the strategy of further cooperation.
He said “when you see the coffee washing stations you see that there are not enough equipment whereas for drying, they still use traditional means which can damage the quality of cherries and eventually the quality of coffee.”
Pierre Kamere Munyura, the president of coffee exporters and processors’ association of Rwanda (CEPAR) said that one of the major hindrances to their business was the lack of access to a port.
“We are far from the sea. It is expensive to take our coffee to Nairobi or Dar es Salaam ports. Sometimes, this causes delays that may result in getting to the market late and also affect the quality of our coffee,” said Munyura, who is also the managing director of Mibirizi Coffee and Food Stuffs (MICOF)
Dr Pierre Celestin Gatarayiha, the head of coffee division at the National Agricultural Exports Development Board (NAEB) efforts said the body is making efforts to maintain the good name of the Rwandan coffee at international level.
“Transport is a big challenge since the most suitable ways are very expensive. But, we have made brand for our coffee, and are making efforts to market it at international levels and sustain the name,” he said adding that they are working with different partners to achieve this.
Ryotaro Murotani, the acting senior representative of Japanese international cooperation agency (JICA) that organized the seminar in collaboration with NAEB said they have provided volunteers to help farmers to ensure quality coffee growing and harvest handling.
Currently Rwanda has 400 000 coffee farmers across the four provinces of the country. Last year, Rwanda exported 16,000 metric tonnes of coffee that brought in $36 m while 23,000 metric tonnes are expected this year.