Rwanda will next year host an international coffee conference which is expected to earn the country $4 million to its coffers.
The conference, expected to take place from February 13-15, 2019 under the theme: “Rwanda – Specialty Coffees at the heart of Africa”, will be the first hosted by Rwanda since 2009, will expose Rwandan farmers to better bargain on global coffee markets.
Around 2000 delegates are expected to attend the conference – recognized as the largest Coffee Trade Event in Africa, where participants are drawn from Africa and Europe, North and South Americas and Asia sub-continent, Middle East and African Coffee Producers and consumers.
“The conference promises to be a very exciting opportunity for Rwandan Coffee producers. We have projected participants to leave between $3m to $4m in tourism activities which will be an eye opener for delegates” said Eng. Ishak K. Lukenge, Board Chairman at African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA).
Samuel Kamau, AFCA Executive Director said that Rwanda will also be the first country to benefit from a specialized coffee farmers training session that will address issues of coffee farmers’ contract management.
Ambassador William Kayonga – CEO of Rwanda National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) said that the conference will be a platform to change the old ways of doing coffee business and looking at current digital trends lest the sector dies a natural death.
“We need a collaborative efforts with all key players to have the farmer brought on board so that the benefits of their coffee can be digitally traced. For the farmer to know where the coffee is sold, how they have gained and to ensure this benefit is traceable to the farmers” Amb. Kayonga said.
The Permanent Secretary ministry of agriculture and animal resources, Jean Claude Kayisinga revealed that at the conference, Rwanda will showcase its potential in coffee research and strategies of shifting focus from production for export to increase local consumption to leverage the countries competitiveness.
Currently the country produces between 18 and 23 metric tonnes annually and exports 96 percent of the produce with only three percent growth since 2009 when the government moved from improving coffee quality from two coffee washing plants to 300 to date.
Despite the dwindling global prices, Rwanda plans to produce 24,000 metric tonnes and process specialty coffee at 80% by 2020 from the current 60% and a local coffee consumption of between 30 and 40%.