A group of coffee dealers from the US, Canada and Australia, yesterday visited Rukara sector in Kayonza District, where they engaged women coffee growers in a number of modern coffee growing activities.
The delegation that was led by David Griswold, the CEO of Sustainable Harvest, an agro-tourism mission, visited Nyarunazi field farmers’ in Rwimishinya village.
Addressing farmers at the field farm that was started exclusively by women, Griswold said the tour created unprecedented connectivity throughout the Sustainable Harvest supply chain.
Following the tour of other coffee farms and washing stations, Griswold described Rwandan coffee as one of the best in the world.
“It has been a spectacular tour to connect with Rwandan farmers. Transparency, quality and reward remain the cornerstone of the coffee growing processes. Rwanda has managed to adhere to such principles, which is the only way leading to competiveness on the global market. The Government handles well the money meant for farmers…this explains why it has managed to grow to this level. In other parts of the world, people are afraid to invest because of poor management and unsustainable business environment,” he said.
Yesterday’s tour is part of the ‘Let’s Talk Coffee Best of Rwanda’ event, where Sustainable Harvest Rwanda and Bloomberg Philanthropies have brought together 100 rural smallholder women farmers to interface with coffee buyers, NGOs and financiers from around the world.
Running November 10-14 in Kigali, Let’s Talk Coffee is meant to provide the Rwandan community the opportunity to forge transparent business relationships, discuss pressing industry issues and calibrate with the international specialty coffee industry and other global partners, according to the organisers.
Companies represented at the event include Marriott, Stumptown Coffee Roasters and New Seasons Market.
The event will also feature workshops on topics such as coffee evaluation and grading; financial literacy; and the basics of coffee roasting.
Dr Celestin Gatarayiha, the head of coffee division at the National Agricultural and Exports Board (NAEB), commended the sustainable development initiatives to support coffee farmers in the country, adding that they would do their best towards producing high quality coffee.
“We have over 100,000 small scale farmers…the women are just a part of them. Interacting with the coffee buyers directly gives our farmers an opportunity to learn from their experience. The tour also cements our relationship with the buyers, hence assuring us of market in future,” he said.
Gatarayiha also said Rwanda coffee enjoys a good price despite the recent fall in prices on international market.
“It is true the prices moved down…It went down from $ 3.7 to $ 2.5 per kilogramme of ordinary coffee. But our coffee still enjoys good prices because buyers pay premiums on top of the existing prices. We want to maintain high quality by exposing our farmers to high level expertise.”
Meanwhile, Rwandan women farmers were impressed learning about the passion with which South American coffee dealers’ handle coffee.
“The tattoo on my arm shows the love I have for coffee…it is a complete story about coffee growing and processing. It shows how we moved from crude means to modern ways of processing. It finally shows a cup of coffee…coffee has been my life since I was a baby. I would be happy if some Rwandan women emulated me,” said Alexandra Littlejohn from Equator Coffee & Teas in California, USA.