In remote Kirehe district two men Bahutiraho Jean Bosco and Ngerageze Straton unknown to each other while growing up did not know that they would spend the rest of their lives as inseparables at Butezi village, Gahara sector.
Both Bahutiraho aged 65 and Ngerageze 52 are humble men that strike you with a shy smile- their wives are sisters. They are always together and busy tending to different plots of coffee plantations in Butezi village.
“He is my musanzire (men married to women who are sisters),” the soft spoken Bahutiraho introduced Ngerageze to Taarifa Team that was on an agribusiness fact finding tour in this remote part of the country.
This part of Rwanda is known for coffee production since the 1960s; Bahutiraho’s father was a coffee farmer too and passed on the same skills to the son. However, Bahutiraho did not have his own coffee garden until 2017 when agents of the Project of Rural Income through Export (PRICE) visited this village.
According to National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB), in 2017, a total of 6000 farmers in the districts of Kirehe, Nyamagabe, Rulindo and Gakenke were handed coffee plantations developed by the Reserve Force through the Project of Rural Income through Export (PRICE).
“In 2017 Price officials came here and sensitized us about the benefits of coffee production and since then I started with half hectare plot,” Bahutiraho told Taarifa on Monday as he showed off the healthy coffee plantation.
Bahutiraho says that he also planted more coffee on his parents’ land.
“I march I harvested 200 kilograms from this half hectare plot. But we usually get a combined 6 ton harvest from all plots. Last year we fetched Rwf 1,296,000,” Ngerageze told Taarifa.
However, coffee production in this village is faced with several difficulties especially accessing mulching materials. “It requires us to spare some plot of land to grow elephant grass which we later cut and mulch coffee gardens,” he adds this is an expensive venture though.
Bahutiraho and Ngerageze told Taarifa that with the recent sudden attack by Covid-19 pandemic, they are scared the prices of coffee may become uncertain because, “nobody knows how long the pandemic will stay around.”
During their harvest in March, the pricing of coffee per kilogram was Rwf216; “we are not sure whether the price will rise or fall. The next harvest will be next year,” Ngerageze said with uncertainty.
In Rwanda, Coffee plants flower in September and October and between March and July, the coffee cherries are ready for harvest.
The types of coffee grown in Rwanda include; Caturra, Catuai, Bourbon (Arabica) with varieties like Harrar; POP3303/21; Jackson 2/1257; BM 139; BM 71.
National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) is pushing harder to increase Rwanda coffee production and the eventual exports.
In 2018, Rwandan coffee started trading on the world’s largest e-commerce platform, Alibaba after the Rwanda Government entered into a partnership with the e-commerce giant to trade Rwandan products on the online market.
So far, sales volumes of Rwandan coffee have grown by 700% on Tmall Global, Alibaba’s cross-border B2C platform.
Source: Taarifa Rwanda