Rwanda will this year fetch more than $3 million from 14,400 bags of Arabica coffee sold to U.S. coffee retail giant Starbucks Corporation, it has emerged in Kigali on May 6 after executives from Starbucks paid a courtesy call on President Paul Kagame.
Apparently, a pound of Rwandan Arabica coffee sells at 134 Cents on the New York Commodities Exchange. And the premium product is one of Rwanda’s top sources of exports.
Last year, the country produced 16,000 tons of coffee, with 98% of it exported, according to Rwanda’s Trade Minister, Francois Kanimba. Out of that, more than 90% is sold in the U.S.
The National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda says coffee counted for 10% ($60 million) of 2014 total exports valued at $599.8 million from $573 million in 2013.
According to Rwanda’s National Agriculture Exports Board (NAEB), at least forty containers are sold to Starbucks every year. “We are impressed by the progress on the quality of Rwandan coffee,” Craig Russell, Starbucks Executive Vice President told KT Press.
Russell was in Rwanda’s Capital, Kigali with a delegation of over 20 officials of Starbucks Corporation, who met with President Paul Kagame at his office on Wednesday, May 6, 2015.
“Our relationship with Starbucks is growing every day,” said Agriculture Minister, Geraldine Mukeshimana.
Starbucks started purchasing Rwandan Arabica in 2004. In 2009, the coffee chain opened offices in Kigali with a mission to directly purchase high quality Arabic coffee.
Despite Rwandan coffee selling high on global markets, coffee farmers still demand more government support to extend their products across borders and earn a more competitive price.
Currently a farmer earns less than a dollar on a kilogram of cherries. “We need to keep consistency on our sales. Our coffee is still little known globally compared to others,” Pierre Munyura, head of Rwanda Coffee Association told KT Press.
With continued partnership with Rwanda, Craig Russell told KT Press that Starbucks agreed with President Kagame to strengthen their relationship with Rwanda.
The coffee giant is currently involved in social activities in the country.
With its ‘Farmers Support Center’, Starbucks works with over 50,000 coffee farmers to increase their yields and quality of coffee.
It has also built a clinic in Nyamyumba, Rubavu District in Western Rwanda.