The history of coffee cultivation in Rwanda is short, but rich. Rwandan kingdoms have a tradition dating back more than a thousand years
and despite being “allocated” to Germany are the Berlin Conference of 1884, the first white person only entered its territory ten years later. Coffee growing was only introduced around the year 1933
by the Belgians. Coffee cultivation wasn’t a free profession, but a rule - coffee trees had to cover 25% of land. The state bought the coffee from the farmers, but also imposed an export tax on it, paid for by the farmers.
After the Republic of Rwanda declared independence
in 1961, the only change was that the system had been taken over by new, local administrators. Coffee continued to decline from the already miserable state established by the colonists. Winds of change arrived relatively early
, unlike in most other African countries. Already in the late 90’s, the government swiftly reacted to the dynamics of the specialty coffee market. The state monopoly was cancelled, direct trade between producers and buyers was allowed
and market access denied to unnecessary middlemen.
These radical changes led Rwanda to a stable rise in not only the quality and price of its coffee, but also the stability of its society as a whole
, which relies of coffee in a major way. Thanks to the injustice of the colonial times, Rwandans despised drinking coffee for decades, as it subconsciously reminded them of the humiliation of their people. Today, the people of Rwanda are rightfully proud of their coffee.
Additionally, thanks for the liberalization and globalization of today’s world, Rwanda is quickly overcoming the struggles caused by its inconvenient landlocked location. The internet and courier services make way for effective communication between buyers and producers
, while the customs union of the East African Community made transport of coffee to the port in Dar es Salaam significantly easier
Rwanda has been positively surprising everyone in the last few years, but even more is definitely to be expected of this wonderful country!