Most Rwandan coffee is currently grown and processed the same way it was a decade ago. Consequently, Rwanda’s coffee production and marketing system has not been able to keep up with changes in the global market for high quality coffee. Given world market gluts of relatively poor quality coffee, Rwanda is now exporting a product that fetches low prices. Despite the challenges in coffee marketing and production, coffee remains one of Rwanda’s most important official sources of foreign exchange and the drop in production is of major concern to both the public and private sectors. In an effort to assist decision makers in the coffee sector better understand factors affecting farmers’ production decisions and their attitudes about coffee, the FSRP fielded a nationally representative survey in 2002. The survey results show that the sector appears to be at a turning point—significant numbers of farmers have moved away from coffee with more seemingly on the cusp of removing more trees, or “decaffeinating” their fields. While the overall picture presented in this report is one of decline, there are also some encouraging changes. Liberalization of coffee policies in the mid-1990s seems to have increased yields by taking the poorest fields out of production. Growing farmer interest in intercropping coffee with food crops suggests that there may be a means of stretching Rwanda’s most limiting resource—land area— thereby enabling farmers to achieve a better combination of food and cash crops. Also, the fact that the coffee sector survives at all in the face of numerous adversities is a weighty testament to its potential.


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