Why promoting fully washed coffee is good for Rwanda?

Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), Dr Agnes Kalibata, recently announced that the ministry is committed to promote and increase fully washed coffee from 33% registered last season to 45% this coming season – an anticipated increase of 12%.

Rwandan coffee is now packaged and branded “Kirkland Rwanda Whole Bean Coffee." (Photo: internet)

Rwandan coffee is now packaged and branded “Kirkland Rwanda Whole Bean Coffee.” (Photo: internet)

The move is in line with the country’s target to increase fully washed coffee to 71% by 2018, according to Celestin Gatarayiha, the Head of Coffee Division at the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB).

Figures from NAEB indicate that fully washed coffee declined to 33% last season from 35% registered in 2012. The decline is attributed to some coffee traders who prefer selling ordinary coffee – which does not command good price.

“We can’t afford to tolerate that inacceptable practice,” Minister Kalibata pointed out. “Our competitiveness lies on fully washed coffee because it has good quality; so we have to take responsibilities at all levels.”

…why fully washed coffee?

Though Coffee remains one of Rwanda’s leading export revenue earners – having generated US$ 55.2 million from 19,969 tons exported last season, but evidently the revenues can still be increased through fully washed coffee.

This is because, for instance, 33% of the exported coffee last season was fully washed and generated 45% (or US$24,727,505) of the total coffee revenues, while 53% of the exported coffee was ordinary coffee and generated only 49% (US$ 27,080,786).

Then it’s now clear that promoting fully washed coffee would be perfect for Rwanda in a sense that the country can’t compete in volumes (given its small land) against the world biggest coffee producers like Latin American countries if it opts to rely on ordinary coffee.

But with its fully washed coffee, the country would be able to impose itself on the international market since experts have been rating Rwanda’s coffee the finest one all over the world.

“Rwandan coffee has its uniqueness on the international market,” noted Mario Serracin, an agronomist working with Rogers Family Company that has been selling Rwandan coffee in the US.

According to the agronomist, Rwanda’s dark roasted coffee has natural taste and its aroma is real. Rwandan coffee has now secured shelves in California-based COSTCO Wholesale Corporation; which looks for high-quality coffee.

Get more details from Mario

Rwandan coffee is now packaged and branded “Kirkland Rwanda Whole Bean Coffee;” which means an elite coffee brand. And this could not happen if it wasn’t fully washed coffee.

Surely Rwandan coffee can build on the name it has made for itself on the international market and bring back bigger returns to Rwandan coffee growers than it is doing now.

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