By Daniel Sabiiti
Bugesera coffee farmers have decried of low coffee prices saying that the selling price has caused losses in revenue compared to the input in growing the tree plant.
The farmers are being paid Rwf150 per kilogram on the current market price, and wish to have the price place at Rwf350 in order to make profits.
Last year, the farmers were paid at least Rwf500 per kilogram and the drop in prices this year has allegedly discouraged some from pursuing the coffee growing business, according to some farmers.
One of the farmers, Emmanuel Habumuremyi, a farmer in Juru sector, Bugesera district says that he borrowed a bank loan of Rwf1million to farm 500 trees in half hectares but has not been able to finance the credit line.
“Some of the farmers have lost interest because the work involved in coffee growing and its revenue is not worthy carrying on. We are demanding that the prices doesn’t go below Rwf300 in order to stay in business.
Dieudonne Maniraguha, the district representative of the National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB) says that the coffee prices are set by international price trends and the farmers are just victims of the turbulances in global coffee prices.
“We don’t decide the prices, but the farmers have been getting additional support from the coffee factories, which add Rwf20 on each kilogram sold out” Maniraguha.
This however may affect the district’s coffee production targets as the district has, this year, set its eyes on producing over 900 tons from the 500 tons produced in 2015.
Positioning Rwanda as a specialty coffee producer would best enable the sector to contribute to the growth and prosperity of the country.
Rwanda’s five-year strategic coffee plan has not been reviewed since 2012 despite the sector suffering one of its sharpest declines in over five years, but it aims for a growth rate of 29 per cent annually, which translates into revenue collections of about $104.3 million (Rwf82 billion) by 2018.
Coffee is Rwanda’s second largest export earner after minerals and it employs about 400,000 farmers.