Rwanda bets on a new variety of coffee for the growth of the sector | The new times

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Farmers can now acquire a new coffee variety (Coffea Arabica variety RABC15) which starts producing two years after planting, unlike current varieties where farmers start harvesting after three years – this development is expected to boost the coffee sector in Rwanda.

The new variety is said to be disease resistant and more productive, and is expected to increase coffee production in the country and generate more income for farmers, according to the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB).

It was developed through the partnership of Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), National Agriculture Exports Development Board (NAEB), through the Project for Rural Income through Exports (PRICE).

Dr. Simon Martin Mvuyekure (Ph.D.), Ag. Principal Investigator and The coordinator of the traditional export crops program at RAB told The New Times that the RABC15 variety of Arabica coffee was published eight years after various experiments on its resilience against major coffee diseases, namely; coffee leaf rust and coffee berry disease, as well as adaptability to Rwanda’s main agro-ecological conditions.

According to RAB experts, the variety would solve the problem of 40 percent of coffee production lost to disease.

In addition, it will be able to increase the yield of coffee per tree by more than 20%.

“In addition, the variety matures early compared to traditional commercial varieties,” he said.

For quality, he said this new variety has an overall score of over 85% (specialty coffee), making it the highest quality coffee in the country.

The variety was released in 2015, while the mother garden was made in 2018 [to produce best planting materials to be given to farmers]Mvuyekure said, adding that RAB currently has the capacity to distribute enough seeds to farmers.

Currently, he said, there is a production capacity of five tons (or 5,000 kilograms) of clean seed, which equates to at least 15 million trees of the new variety each year. This amount of trees can be planted on 6,000 hectares of coffee every year.

This means that there will be enough trees of this new variety to replace around 40,000 hectares of coffee plantations in Rwanda in four years, if all farmers were to adopt it.

However, he said it is not advisable for a country to have a single variety of coffee, indicating that diversification is necessary in order to have a backup in case it fails due to various factors.

He said that RAB, in partnership with NAEB, organized a training of private coffee seed multipliers in which public institutions and private actors claimed to work collectively to develop a framework for the harmonization of production. and the development of nurseries, to facilitate the distribution of seeds across the country and to boost productivity in the sector.

Farmers want access to variety for more yields

Fulgence Sebazungu, president of the Rwanda Coffee Cooperatives Federation (RCCF), told The New Times that farmers need this relatively quick-ripening variety of coffee to boost their income.

“In terms of volumes, Rwanda is not among the big coffee producing countries like Brazil, Colombia or even Ethiopia. What the country sells is quality coffee. It is therefore commendable that this new variety of coffee yields earlier and is of high quality,” he said.

He liked the fact that this early maturing variety is available during this time when Rwanda is replacing old coffee varieties with new ones, in order to increase yields.

Information from the NAEB indicates that 30% of the country’s 100 million coffee trees – or about 30 million trees – are old and need to be replaced.

Coffee trees are classified as old when they are at least 30 years old. As a result, their productivity drops dramatically.

“Coffee production has declined for old trees. Having this new quality variety to replace them is an opportunity for farmers,” said Sebazungu.

Each year, the government plans more than 3.7 million coffee plants grown on 1,500 hectares, Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente told lawmakers last month during a parliamentary session on government actions related to agricultural inputs.

It should be noted that the price of coffee on the international market increased by 59% for $5.9 per kilogram last week $3.7 per kilogram the previous year.

Thanks to rising prices in the international market, in February this year the minimum price at which quality coffee cherries are purchased from farmers was increased by 65%, from Rwf 248 per kilogram last year to Rwf 410 Rwf per kilogram.

In the financial year 2020-2021, Rwanda exported more than 16.8 million kilograms of coffee, which generated more than 61.5 million dollars, an increase of 1.83%, compared to 60, $4 million from the export of over 19.7 million kilograms of coffee in the previous fiscal year. fiscal year.

The country is targeting production of 31,000 tons of green coffee and revenues of $95 million by 2024, according to NAEB data.

There are around 400,000 coffee farmers in Rwanda, who depend on the harvest for their livelihood.

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