The testimonies were delivered by farmers grouped in Kopakaki-Dutegure Cooperative as Japan’s ambassador to Rwanda, Isao Fukushima visited them on 7th March 2023.
Japan supports five cooperatives including Kopakaki-Dutegure belonging to coffee farmers in Kibuye to enhance the quality of their produce. Kopakaki-Dutegure is based in Rubengera Sector of Karongi District.
The National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) indicates that Japan is among top three destinations for Rwanda’s coffee whereby coffee exports to the country increase gradually.
In 2012, Japan through International Cooperation Agency (JICA) started working with farmers in the area of capacity building. In the following year, Rwandans started travelling to Japan to learn from best practices in coffee farming.
Amb. Isao Fukushima said that the country plans to continue marketing Rwanda’s coffee on the international market.
Eric Ruganintwari, Quality Assurance and Regulatory Division Manager at NAEB said that cooperation between Rwanda and Japan is an opportunity for Rwanda’s coffee farmers because the country’s coffee consumers have increased for the past ten years.
“Upon arrival in Rwanda, the ambassador himself visited joint projects being implemented in Rwanda through JICA. There is optimism for this program to make a great impact, benefit farmers and the country as well,” he said.
Nyirabantu Thérèse, a farmer owning 444 coffee trees told IGIHE that Japanese agronomists trained them on quantities of fertilizers to be applied in their plantations and mulching techniques.
“Before, we practiced rudimentary farming techniques. After receiving training, the produce has increased from four to six sacks,” she said.
The President of Kopakaki-Dutegure, Bonavanture Munyeshema explained that cooperation with Japan capacitated farmers to regenerate trees and increase the number of young people growing coffee.
The Mayor of Karongi District, Vestine Mukarutesi said that coffee farming has a great significance to economic growth and improved wellbeing of residents.
Through coffee, she said, farmers in the district subscribe for Community Based Health Insurance (Mutuelle de Santé), make contributions in Ejo Heza saving scheme, pay school fees and feed their families.
Mukarutesi encouraged farmers to adopt best practices to make coffee a sustainable source of income.
In the fiscal year 2021-2022, Rwanda exported 15 million kilograms of coffee that generated US$75.5 million.