The Starbucks delegation has been in the country for five days. Among the areas visited were Musasa, Karenge and NAEB. In NAEB, they were received by the Director General and the management team. The Director General gave the overview of the coffee sector by showing the areas where coffee is grown, how much is exported, the number of coffee washing stations which increased from 2 in 2002 up to 230. Farmers are aware of the importance of taking their coffee harvest to washing stations for proper processing into fully washed coffee that fetches them better prices.
Coffee quality is also dependent not only on post-harvest practices but also on picking regimes. Therefore, farmers are sensitised on the best time of picking coffee cherries at the right ripeness to ensure good quality of the produce. Equally important is the timely delivery of coffee cherries to the washing stations before they are spoiled.
Before one establishes a coffee washing station, NAEB has to inspect the site and make an environment impact assessment
He also highlighted the factors that favor the growing of coffee and the support that NAEB gives to the farmers. He says NAEB supports them with materials; seedlings and fertilisers and gives them technical support through advice on planting, maintaining, harvesting and processing. Farmers work with agronomists on a day-to-day basis to ensure quality coffee is produced. NAEB has also supported farmers to form Fertiliser and Pesticide Fund, which buys in bulk and distributes to individual farmers. Farmers are sensitized to form cooperatives and then trained in the best farming practices through the Farmer Field Schools (FFSs)
He also talked on coffee marketing where by different initiatives are undertaken to promote Rwanda coffee garner better prices on the international market. NAEB has been conducting the Cup of Excellence competitions since 2008. The competitions are about coffee quality. Farmers enter their coffee into the competitions and a panel of international coffee buyers taste the coffees and rank them according to their quality attributes and the winning coffees are sold in the auction.
They ended their day in NAEB by visiting the coffee laboratory and participated in the cupping exercise.