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Rwanda urged to up local coffee intake

by Grace Kisembo

Africa’s second largest coffee producer has since been urged to increase its local produce consumption.

According to the National Agricultural Export Board statistics, Rwanda exports 97 per cent of its coffee abroad and consumes the remaining 3 per cent locally.

Like many African countries that have encompassed a common trend of exporting more of local produce, Rwanda dispatched 24,000metric tons of coffee and earned $67 million in the year 2018.

Although Rwandan coffee has a major market abroad to key destinations like Switzerland, the United States of America and the United Kingdom, the process it undergoes till completion and market price determined makes it not affordable for the locals to purchase.

This has fostered Rwanda to import low quality coffee and tea rather than the locally produced coffee. Let alone the unpredictable and unstable changes on the foreign market largely affect the national earnings.

Vincent Karenzi, the Production Manager at Rwanda Trading Company, a coffee company in Rwanda alluded that only 1 percent of the coffee is sold locally.

“A cup of coffee can cost up to Rwf 3000, which not many can afford. A kilogram of coffee beans that cost several hundred francs from the farm ends up costing Rwf 8000 RWF by the time it’s processed.”

According to Karenzi, Rwandese need much sensitization on increase of local coffee consumption as many farmers have little knowledge about it with some never having tasted their product which would gradually see growth.

In an interview with The New Times, Dassa Daniso, an exhibitor from the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority said that as a result of high local consumption, Ethiopia’s coffee industry is not much affected by drops in international coffee prices.

“Sometimes coffee prices can go very low that further growth of local consumption is discouraged as it competes with exports. But, due to our internal consumption we can manage the prices. ,” he said.

Ethiopia consumes about 50 percent of its coffee locally and has since encouraged Rwanda to follow Kenya’s footsteps to increase its local consumption.

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