Rwanda Mid-Harvest Update

Published 17 May 2022

Harvest time has come early for our Rwandan supply partners, as farmers and washing stations across the country have begun picking, processing and preparing new season coffees! Though the premature arrival of the season has forced us to cancel travel plans, we are looking forward to tasting offer samples as early as the first couple of weeks of June. 

There’s a buzz in the air across Rwanda’s coffee-producing regions, as the season is setting up to be a very good one for farmers. Every year, Rwanda’s National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) sets the minimum price per kg of coffee cherry, in an effort to protect farmers’ livelihoods. For 2022, that minimum price was increased by a whopping 65% above last year’s, making the current bumper crop a very profitable one as well!

This price surge has accelerated competition amongst local buyers, as this is what drives the top end of the market. Cherry purchasing has become quite complicated for our longtime partners like Dukunde KawaKoakaka and Maraba Cooperatives, as well as for the family-owned Buf Coffee. For all of them, production has already been costly, as they have had to supply growing partners with the pesticides and fertilisers that the Rwandan government was unable to provide this year. As Dukunde Kawa’s Managing Director Ernest Nshimyimana explained on a recent video call, “Farmers are happy with the price, but Dukunde Kawa faces a lot more risk.” In order to help mitigate this risk and support our Rwandan partners, we have signed purchasing contracts well-ahead of schedule, and we expect landed prices for this year’s coffees to be around 10% higher than last year’s.

When speaking with managing director of RWASHOSCCO Angelique Karekezi, she pointed out that the price of cherry is only part of what is increasing risk this season. “Export fees have gone up by 400%” she told us, which in turn is driving up operation costs and creating uncertainty among cooperatives. Banks have also experienced delays when approving the financing needed to secure cherry, further affecting the morale at washing stations. “Washing stations are working normally, but you can imagine having such high prices after two years of Covid, when many washing stations experienced staff shortages and a decrease in their income – so it’s a challenge,” Angelique told us, “But we’re pushing ourselves!”

Ultimately, we all agree that high cherry prices is good news for producers! It has been a season of good weather and timely rain, meaning coffee is plentiful and of spectacular quality. As Buf’s Sam Muhirwa put it, “it’s a season of high volume, high quality and high prices!” Yet, we remain committed to supporting our partners and the incredibly meaningful and restorative work they do in Rwanda, and are convinced the Australian coffee community feels the same way!

With this in mind, we’ll be tasting samples from the Northern, Southern and Western Provinces of Rwanda, looking for stand-out lots, with distinct regional characteristics and refined cup character.  Now is the time to let us know if you are looking for something specific from Rwanda – whether that be a large volume blending component, coffee from a particular washing station that you’ve featured and loved before, or a micro-lot from a single producer. Your requests will shape our order and help us grow with our treasured producing partners.  

Communicating your intentions ahead of purchasing helps us to accurately gauge demand and is the best way to secure the coffees you love year on year! You can read more about our Rwandan sourcing program here, or simply call or email or team to chat further. The coffees we select now will land in Australia later this year, around October.