Coffee Sorting& Grading Equipment Worth US$ 1.376 million launched, greatly raising Rwanda’s capacity to export high quality coffee

  • The equipment raises National Export Development Board’s capacity to sort high grade coffee to 64-80 Metric Tonnes (Four 40-foot containers) which is 48 times previous capacity.
  • Currently there are 400,000 small holder coffee farmers exporting 21,000 metric tonnes of coffee in 2020, earning the country US$ 50.2 million

Kigali 21st Sept: The capacity to sort and grade high quality coffee for lucrative export markets through the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) has been raised many times-fold following acquisition of modern Coffee Sorting and Grading Machines and accessories. The equipment includes machines worth US$ 1.159 million funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through regional trade agency TradeMark Africa.

The Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands provided coffee sorting tables worth US$217,000 also through TradeMark Africa. The project was implemented in partnership with the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) with the new equipment located at its warehouses in Kigali.

Speaking during the equipment launch today, NAEB Chief Executive Officer Claude Bizimana said the equipment raises current capacity by to 48 times. “With the modern equipment we will be able to sort and grade 64-80 Metric Tonnes per day which will fill up to four 40-foot containers, which is 48 times our current capacity. The huge capacity will greatly benefit the 32 coffee producer co-operatives that we serve. Previously it took a team of 35 workers, 12 days to sort and grade one container of coffee” noted Bizimana. This he explained would reduce the time-lag between client order and export delivery.

USAID Rwanda Mission Director Jonathan Kamin noted that the equipment would be a major boost to coffee fortunes of the East African nation.

USAID Head Mission Rwanda
“I am delighted to be here today, on behalf of the U.S. Government to launch and hand over the coffee sorting and grading machines to NAEB. USAID is committed to continue supporting Rwanda’s economic growth, including our support to increasing exports of high value agricultural products, such as coffee,” said Kamin. “ Through TMA, our implementing partner, USAID funded the purchase of the coffee sorting and grading machines worth $1.2 million. We hope that our contribution will improve trading standards and increase market access for Rwandan coffee products.”

The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kigali said the Government of the Netherlands has lauded the development anticipating modern coffee grading to expand the already growing coffee exports from Rwanda. “This program offers linkage in regard to maintaining quality across coffee export chain via a Speciality Coffee Rwanda project from the Netherlands Ministry of foreign affairs under the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI), that has been implementing a 4-year project that started in 2019 and will end in Q1 2022 aimed at developing high value, sustainable speciality coffee sector in Rwanda that can do independently business in European Union markets. In addition, this program is part of a broader support by the Government of the Netherlands to programmes of TMA” said Kevin Ngei, Policy Officer Private Sector Development at the Embassy.

TMA Country Director for Rwanda Patience Mutesi, explained that the Coffee Sorting and Grading Equipment is part of the wider Standards and Phyto-Sanitary Standards (SPS) aimed at addressing technical barriers to trade in industrial and agricultural goods.

Patience Mutesi
“Low compliance of standards and SPS continues to be a significant barrier to SMEs and Farmer Associations in our country, from accessing international high end value chains. Through this program we are improving access to standards services by working with both the government and private sector. Further, the equipment will reduce the cost of grading our coffee and raise the quality of coffee coming from Rwanda” said Mutesi

One of the interventions of the program is supporting conformity assessment bodies and to increase private sector service provision on enhancing compliance with an ultimate result of Rwandese goods being able to access global markets.

Currently 400,000 small-holder farmers are engaged in small holder coffee farming. In 2020/2021 fiscal year coffee exports were 16,880 metric tonnes, earning the country US$ 61.5 million despite depressed global demand due to the Covid19 pandemic.

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