According to Rwanda’s National Agricultural Export Board, the country consumes an estimated 3 per cent of its coffee produce and exports 97 per cent.
With countries like the United States of America, Switzerland, and the U.K being key destinations for Rwandan coffee, the country exported 24000 metric tonnes last year, fetching about $67 million.
Less local consumption and a very high exportation rate is a common trend for African countries, except Ethiopia, which consumes about 50 per cent of its coffee locally.
Dassa Daniso, an exhibitor from the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority says that as a result of high local consumption, Ethiopia’s coffee industry is mostly unaffected by drops in international coffee prices.
“Sometimes coffee prices can go very low, but because of our internal consumption we can manage the prices,” he said.
He however hinted that sometimes they impede the growth of local consumption because it competes with exports. Vincent Karenzi the Production Manager at Rwanda Trading Company, a coffee company in Rwanda says that they only sell 1 per cent of the coffee they process to the local market.
For him, the coffee prices are often not very affordable to the ordinary Rwandan, a fact that makes them opt for alternatives such as tea.
For instance, he said a cup of coffee could cost up to Rwf 3000, which not many can afford.
According to Karenzi, a kilogram of coffee beans, which costs several hundred francs from the farm, ends up costing Rwf 8000 RWF by the time it is processed.
Karenzi calls for increased sensitization to Rwandans on coffee consumption, which would gradually see growth in consumption.
Antonio Pinheiro, an official from Supremo NV, a Belgian coffee company echoed the importance of Rwandans consuming local coffee, as opposed to importing coffee, which is often of lower quality.
Marie Kankindi, a coffee farmer from Gisagara District admitted that farmers know little about coffee consumption culture with some never having tasted their product.