FEATURED: Fairtrade Africa rewards the best coffee producers | New times

Fair Trade Africa (FTA) recognized the ten best coffee producers in Rwanda and the DRC.

Fairtrade Africa is the umbrella organization representing Fairtrade certified producers in Africa and a member of Fairtrade International (FI).

It aims to effectively represent producers within the international Fairtrade system and to contribute to improving the livelihoods of African producers by increasing market access.

In its desire to facilitate market access, FTA organized for the first time in Rwanda, the quality competition for Kombe la Dhahabu coffee in which certified producers from Rwanda, Congo and Burundi were invited to participate.

Only ten producers were rewarded in a competition in which 28 applications were received.

The awards ceremony took place on the third and final day of the competition, Friday September 17th.

The winners have been crowned “Specialty Coffee Ambassadors” and they will be sponsored to attend major specialty coffee events so they can learn marketing and business skills and connect with the market.

In addition to this, their coffee samples are distributed in Europe and North America among other places of consumption.

Getahun Gebrekidan, regional program manager in charge of coffee and tea at Fairtrade Africa, says his institution wants to change the popular discourse that most consumers buy in Africa to support poor African farmers.

“Most coffee consumers come to Africa to buy, not because of the quality or the low price, they think they are coming to support poor farmers somewhere in Africa,” said Getahun Gebrekidan.

“And this is the narrative that we want to change.”

We have good coffee, good volume and Africa must be known for its high quality coffee, Gebrekidan added.

Gebrekidan also reiterates that once the quality is improved, it will also promote local consumption since the consumption rate of local coffee in East Africa is 10 percent due to the low quality and high prices of coffee. However, a change has been observed.

“You can see that Rwandan consumers have started to understand things, if more cafes open, it is a good opportunity to promote local consumption and the production of quality coffee,” Gebrekidan said.

Among the laureates, Abaterankunga ba Sholi won the first two positions in the competition.

The Muhanga-based cooperative has 451 members.

Aimable Nshimiye, the representative of the cooperative, tells how their cooperative promoted the quality of the coffee to win a prize in the competition.

“We have equipped our members with the skills to brew high quality coffee from farm to market, including irrigation, weeding and adding fertilizer,” he commented.

“We also work as a group and interact with different local farm administrators and hold regular meetings, to gain the necessary advice and ensure that we are always in contact with them throughout the season.

Throughout this competition, Nshimiye is optimistic that Rwandan coffee will be promoted internationally.

Syliver Cyuzuzo Nkundabagenzi, the COKANKO chief in Rutsiro district who took the third position also said that it pushed them to do more.

“We are motivated to continue to train 295 farmers who make up our cooperative and help them obtain a better quality product,” he noted.

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