On 1st November 2012, the 345 members of the SNV-supported Kabakanya cooperative celebrated their third annual consecutive win at the Rwanda Cup of Excellence awards.
The world’s most esteemed award for top quality coffees, the Cup of Excellence has been held annually since 1999. The competition is now held in nine countries, with Rwanda being the first on the African continent. The Rwanda Cup of Excellence consists of a nationwide competition hosted in a selected district and an award ceremony in Kigali, followed by an auction of the winning lots to buyers from around the world – and finally, celebrations by the winning local cooperatives.
Of the 169 lots of fully washed coffee that were entered into the competition, only 26 gained 2012 Cup of Excellence awards. During the selection process the coffees are tasted at least five times by national and international cuppers.
The coffee lots entered by the Kabakanya cooperative brought in a total US$21,023 at auction.
Veneranda Nzayiturinka, the advisor responsible for the SNV coffee programme in Rwanda, said coffee farmer cooperatives were becoming more aware of the tangible benefits from this competition.
“The extra income from the Cup of Excellence is used to reinvest in the farm or to buy household supplies,” Veneranda said. “It encourages farmers to improve the quality of their product right from the gardens to the final consumers.”
The total value of coffee sold at the 2012 auction was US$312,332. While this was down against 2011 figures due to a slow global market, with the first bid at $US24.40, producers still obtained prices up to five times greater than those generally paid by major processors.
“Participation, and especially winning the awards, builds members loyalty to their cooperatives,” Félicien Gasirabo, the chairman of KABAKANYA Cooperative said. “As a consequence of the Cup of Excellence, the farmers deliver more and better coffee beans to the coffee washing stations.”
SNV consultant Francois Sihimbiro highlighted SNV’s role in strengthening the coffee value chain. “SNV’s inclusive business model gives importance to the farmer-owned coffee washing stations, reinforcing management skills and linking them to financial services and other service providers,” he said.
Underlining the importance of the Cup of Excellence, Alex Kanyankole, Director General of the National Agricultural Export Board explained the national strategy for the coffee value chain. “Our plan for 2012- 2017 aims at increasing production of green coffee from 22,000 metric tonnes to 35,000 metric tonnes, and income from $US 78 million to $US 157 million. Organising a big coffee event like the Cup of Excellence is a way to acknowledge the farmers dedication to quality and to call attention to the national coffee strategy.”
SNV’s operations in Africa are managed in two regional offices; in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso covering West and Central Africa, and in Nairobi, Kenya covering East and Southern Africa.