Coffee plays a major role in the economy of the country, contributing significantly to foreign exchange earnings and to the monetisation of the rural economy.
Currently, ca. 400,000 small holder farm families produce it and depend on it for their livelihoods. Coffee was introduced by Germans in early 1900s, it is dominated by mainly ‘bourbon’ type of Arabica coffees.
The production ranges from 267, 000 to 420,000 bags per year (16 000 MT to 21000MT). The total area in coffee is currently 42,000 hectares grown and it is grown in most provinces in the country at an altitude less than 1900 m
The Coffee sub-sector is coordinated under the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) whose responsibilities are:
- Support to the coffee production by providing technical assistance and planting material to farmers
- Support to the coffee processing
- Promotion, marketing and export of Rwanda coffee
- Participation in the development of the policy and strategies governing the sector and ensure the implementation of policies as they affect production, processing, marketing research and training in the sector
There is one crop of coffee per year and the flowering starts after the June – August dry season with the first rain in September (Table 1). Fruits are then formed and the harvesting period starts late February in the Western Province on the shores of Lake Kivu and Early March elsewhere. However in the some areas in the Northern Province coffee is still harvest until August.