Fluctuating prices for coffee on the international market has exposed farmers to losses, forcing some temporarily venture into other economic activities to earn a living.
According to the farmers, whose fresh bean coffee have fetched between Rwf170 and Rwf190 per kilogramme, the earnings have not matched up to their investment in coffee farming.
“This season was not beneficial at all to the coffee farmers, because the investment was much higher and weight out what I have been getting on the market,” said Emmanual Ndikuriryo, a coffee farmer in Gisagara district.
"Farm gate prices for coffee beans was around Rwf190 a kilogramme, which is low and could in some time be lowered to Rwf170 in this farming season,” he said.
According to National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), average price of Rwanda coffee dropped by 6.7 per cent to Rwf3,019 a kilogramme in 2018/19 from Rwf3,238) per kilogramme in previous year.
According to the report, the coffee revenues dropped from over Rwf65 billion collected in 2017/18 to around Rwf64 billion last year.
This is despite the fact that exported quantities have grown by 6 per cent from 20,000 tonnes in 2018/19 to 21,000 tonnes last year.
When coffee farming was on the verge of collapsing, farmers lost interest in the venture, prompting the government to subsidise farm inputs.
Théopiste Nyiramahoro, president of Rwanda Coffee Cooperatives’ Federation (RCCF) told Rwanda Today that the initial prices of coffee have not helpful to farmers.
“Yesterday we met players in the coffee sector and came up with new farm gates tariff that is beneficial to the farmers. A farmer will get Rwf216 per kilogramme of fresh beans of coffee,” said Mr Nyiramahoro. He added that in mid March, sector players will meet to adjust again in the wake of depreciating Rwandan franc.
As Rwanda enters harvesting season, RCCF pointed out that farmers in near lake Kivu have started harvesting and their fresh coffee beans are being bought at the new price.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources despite the low productivity of the coffee bean per tree, quality is still a concern.