Rwanda moves to protect its coffee, tea revenues

Sunday February 19 2017

By KABONA ESIARA

The government is relying on irrigation for its coffee and tea plantations and more washing stations in a bid to mitigate against a drop in yields and export receipts as a result of more pronounced dry spells associated with climate change.

The proposed interventions are expected to increase productivity, quality of the crops for export markets and protect coffee and tea plantations from drought.

Top on the agenda is encouraging farmers to irrigate the crops, mulch them and increase the number of coffee washing stations.

“The harsh weather affects many crops including coffee,” said Celestin Gatarayiha head of coffee division at Rwanda Agricultural Export Board (NAEB).

Rwanda Today understands that more coffee and tea farmers will be encouraged to apply for government funding to be invested in irrigation. The government will subsidise 50 per cent of the cost for acquisition of irrigation equipment and construction of water dams.

The intervention comes when the production of coffee — a major agricultural export crop — dropped and revenues dipped in 2016.

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Earnings from coffee reduced to about Rwf38.4 billion ($46.8 million) in the first 10 months of 2016, from Rwf39.7 billion ($49.4 million) in the same period in 2015. The target is to earn Rwf57.4 billion ($70 million) from coffee exports in 2017.

NAEB announced a campaign to encourage farmers to mulch the plantations and apply more fertilizers to improve soil quality.

Data from NAEB shows coffee farmers increased fertiliser application by 10 per cent from 4,440MT in 2015-2016 to 4,916MT in 2016-2017.

The country also expects to increase fully washed coffee from 54 per cent in 2016 to 60 per cent in 2017.

Tea production suffered three months of depressed rains in June-August 2016. Green leaf production in the 10 months of 2016 declined from 24,998,122kg in 2015 to 20,673,367 kg in the 10 months in 2016.