Rwanda is among the most competitive countries in coffee production. Undoubtedly, it would make sense if the country too was its largest consumer of its produce. However, there seems to be a big gap that required the National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) and Sustainable Harvest Rwanda, a local NGO, to revive a culture of local consumption of coffee.
Many Rwandans are yet to embrace the culture of coffee consumption and this drive is part of efforts to change the trend. Under the campaign, ‘Let’s talk coffee’ Sustainable Harvest Rwanda teaches residents how to prepare coffee traditionally and brew it. Last week the organisation trained residents of Karenge sector in Rwamagana District the art of coffee making, right from traditional roasting to grinding and brewing.
According to Jean Aime Niyonkuru, the provincial coordinator for Sustainable Harvest, the move seeks to increase local consumption of coffee.
Niyonkuru noted that most Rwandans think the cash crop is for export, which he faulted on how it was introduced by colonialists “who forced Rwandans to grow coffee but made drinking the beverage a privilege of a few”. The provincial Executive Secretary, Kizito Habimana, said lack of knowledge about coffee also affects coffee consumption among Rwandans.
Habimana observed that if more Rwandan coffee farmers consumed the beverage, they would work hard to care for the crop and also increase production.
He called on residents of Rwamagana to develop a culture of coffee drinking to “taste the product of their labour”.
The officials were speaking after the monthly community work commonly known as Umuganda on Saturday August 26, during which 13 hectares of coffee plantation were pruned, weeded and mulched.
Speaking at the event, Abdoul Kharim Manirarora, a resident of Karenge and a coffee grower, said it is important for farmers to drink coffee. “How can we bargain for good prices if we don’t know how coffee tastes,” he challenged.
Emmanuel Havugimana, the executive secretary of Karenge sector, said there are about two million coffee trees in the area which produce over 4000 tonnes per season although coffee culture is poor among residents.
Recent, the government donated Rwf40 million to coffee growers’ cooperatives in Karenge for producing excellent coffee.
Sustainable Harvest Rwanda operates in Rwamagana and Kayonza districts in Eastern Province and Nyaruguru District, Southern Province, where it works with NAEB to improve the coffee value chain to ensure quality. It also trains farmers in good agronomical practices to help increase coffee production in these districts.