Analysis: Rwanda: Small Batches of Rwandan Coffee Pack Big Punch in World Market
They may be from the smallest country in eastern Africa, but coffee farmers in Rwanda can still compete in the international market with giant coffee exporters like Colombia, Brazil and Mexico.
The way they ‘punch above their weight’ is to ensure that they export high quality coffee, while remaining united through their cooperative movements, according to Angelique Karekezi, the managing director at the Rwanda Small Holder Specialty Coffee Company (RWASHOSCCO).
“Our farmers do not export much coffee produce, but the little that reaches the international market is of very high quality. This has enabled their products to remain competitive amid price fluctuations, which keep changing every second,” says Karekezi.
It is not price fluctuations alone that continue to frustrate coffee farmers in eastern Africa. Long value chains, exploitative intermediaries and limited access to lines of credit also stifle the growth of the coffee sector in the region, according to Samuel Kamau, the executive director at the African Coffee Association.
Climate change, too, affects coffee produce, due to erratic weather, where strong winds in countries like Rwanda have been known to destroy plantations.New pests and diseases also leave a destructive trail in their wake, says Karekezi.
Photo courtesy of Budiey.