Rwanda Sets Sights on Doubling Coffee Earnings in Six Years

(Bloomberg) -- Rwanda says improved farming methods and the introduction of higher-yielding varieties will help double earnings from coffee to about $130 million in the next six years.

The government sees revenue from the country’s specialty coffee, whose biggest buyer is Seattle-based Starbucks Corp., rising 9 percent this year to $74.6 million on shipments of 24,500 metric tons.

Some of the measures expected to increase yields by a quarter to 4 kilograms per tree include training for farmers and improving access to inputs, according to Bill Kayonga, the chief executive officer of the National Agricultural Export Development Board.

“Due to our coffee quality that keeps on improving, we expect more appreciation from markets and an increase in prices,” Kayonga said in an interview in the capital, Kigali. Last year, Rwanda’s coffee price averaged $3.30 to $3.40 a kilogram.

Farmers are also being encouraged to plant the new varieties on new acreage, Kayonga said. The total area planted with coffee is about 42,000 hectares (103,784 acres), according to the board.

Rwandan meteorologists have forecasts above-normal rainfall in the March-May season, which could affect agricultural production in some areas of the country.

It’s “difficult to predict the outcome, given that the reality at times differs from the forecasts,” Kayonga said. “We are, however, hopeful that yields will not be adversely affected.”

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