The National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) has launched a nationwide campaign that seeks to promote irrigation among coffee farmers.
Amb William Kayonga, the NAEB chief executive officer, said the campaign kick-started in Kirehe District seeks to encourage farmers to embrace irrigation as one of the mechanisms geared at helping increase coffee production in the country.
According to Kayonga, modern farming methods are crucial to enhance the sector’s capacity to generate more revenue for farmers and government generally.
He encouraged farmers to work under co-operatives for easy access to farm inputs and funding. “You can’t get a good yield if you do not use recommended agronomic practices,” Kayonga said.
More than 400,000 Rwandans earn their livelihood from coffee farming.
There are currently more than 229 coffee washing stations across the country which farmers can use to boost the quality and value of coffee.
Under a five-year strategic plan guiding coffee production, NAEB aims at increasing the beverage exports by 29 per cent annually, and generating more than $104.3 million in earnings by 2018, up from $60.9 million in 2013.
Theopista Nyiramahoro, the Rwanda Coffee Federation chairperson, said co-operatives can enable farmers market their produce competitively.
She, however, expressed concerned about price fluctuations over the past 12 months. Rwanda’s coffee export revenues dropped by 5.17 per cent to $60.7 million last fiscal year, from $64.03 million registered the previous year.
The agro-export body attributed the decrease to the drop in global coffee prices over the reporting period.
On average, prices for the beans have declined from $3.87 per kilogramme during the 2014 to 2015 coffee year to about $3 per kilo this year.
The country exported 19.6 million kilos in 2015 up from 16.5 million kilogrammes exported the previous year.
Meanwhile, total coffee production rose from 16.9 million kilogrammes during the 2014 to 2015 period to 20.03 million kilos in the last 12 months.
The export body attributes the improved performance to good agronomical practices, as well as the fact that most farmers embraced coffee washing stations, among other initiatives.