Coffee: Africa’s green gold

 

 

On the ridges of Rwanda’s rolling hills small scale farmers work hard to give their country the biggest foreign exchange earner.

Coffee: Africa’s green gold. Coffee accounts for 56% of the value of the country’s exports, and contributes 25% of the total export revenue. Prior to the programme, coffee yields were low.  The quality was poor.  Marketing systems were dysfunctional, and cooperative societies that handle the marketing were poorly managed. Commercial banks in the country were reluctant to lend to farmers because they were considered high risk.

Cooperatives like TUREN-GARY-KAWA, in the west of Rwanda were unable to get the capitalization they needed to buy coffee cherries and invest in proper processing equipment.

CABI’s credit guarantee scheme is working to bring farmers and cooperatives the skills and capitalization they need to increase yield, increase coffee quality, and ultimately improve the lives of farmers and their families. To gain the banks’ trust, CABI and its partners have been helping farmers and co-operative managers to develop new skills. The paradigm shift means that coffee growers in the scheme have achieved a price premium in excess of 30% owing to higher quality cherries and modern machines for processing. This project is revolutionizing coffee processing practices in Rwanda and has mobilized in-country capital as other banks have come in to lend to small-scale coffee farmers.

So far, the project has helped transform the livelihoods of thousands of small-holder farmers in this country and if replicated, could change for the better the lives of millions of African farming families in the coffee sub-sector.