Rwanda And Uganda Coffee Growing
The US$300,000 Bourbon coffee shop in Kigali plans to open two new branches before the close of 2007.
Bourbon coffee shop is centrally located at the posh Union Trade Centre in Nyarugenge district, Kigali city.
Since its opening on February 20, Bourbon has been overwhelmed by the demand for coffee by both Rwandans and the expatriate community.
This was revealed by the coffee shop's operations manager Mr. Emmanuel Murekezi during an interview on April 19. With an estimated 500 patrons a day, the winning formula can only get better as explained by the coffee guru.
"Everything has gone beyond expectation. During the day we have about 70% capacity and we reach peak hours between 6.15pm and 7.15pm.
There is no space to sit at this time," Mr. Murekezi told Business Week. The coffee traffic is also very high in the morning hours as espresso and latte lovers take a sip before trekking to office.
Due to the high turn over of clients, Bourbon uses 100 litres of milk a day. The milk is supplied by Inyange Industries. Two new coffee shops are to be born to quench this demand. One is to open at the MTN Centre in Nyarutarama in upmarket Kigali come mid 2007.
Before the end of the year, a state of the art coffee shop will be strategically positioned at the Kigali International Airport. The modern coffee shop that some visitors have described to Business Week as the best in East Africa has a sitting capacity of 80 people.
It has high speed hot spot internet access for patrons and different blends of coffee such as Lattes, espresso drinks. Bourbon also serves and sells Rwandan tea, blended drinks, iced drinks and fruits. Through a new innovative culture, the Bourbon Coffee Shop has brought onto the market a modern drip coffee maker. "This machine can brew 20 litres of coffee in three minutes. This means you can have high quality coffee instantly," Mr. Murekezi explained. Bourbon coffee shop also sells packed roasted coffee beans that clients can grind in their homes. Some clients prefer to grind coffee in order for it not to lose its signature quality enriching taste and flavour.
"It's mainly expatriates and tourists who come to buy the whole roasted coffee beans that we sell in 1kg and half kilogram packets." The coffee is obtained from the local farmers in the Kivu lake region in the west, the Virunga mountain region in the north west, Kizi Rift Valley region in the south, Muhazi Lake region in the east and the Akagera region in the south east of the country of a thousand hills.
The stylish coffee shop that was opened by President Paul Kagame early this year employs 32 staff who work in 8 hour shifts.
Bourbon does on-the-job training for staff as the coffee shop business is much different from the traditional catering sector.
"We train staff vigorously. Coffee shops work with speed. Everything must be prepared ahead so we need to act quickly," explained Murekezi, a Rwandan who has lived in California since 1990 and is now transferring market driven skills to his countrymen.
Resumes in Mityana
Coffee farmers in Mityana district have resumed coffee cultivation which they had abandoned 10 years ago, due to fluctuating prices and the coffee wilt disease.
This has been credited to Uganda Natural Coffee Farmer's Alliance, a European Union-supported project that has given farmers seedlings and farm inputs at subsidised prices, since February 2005.
The alliance is the result of the Agricultural Productivity Enhancement Programme (APEP), a United States Agency for International Development supported programme.
Today, they are working with about 292 farmer groups with each group having 25 to 35 members, totalling 10,000 farmers, from Mityana and Mubende.
Kennedy Ssenoga, the field operations manager, said they have set up two offices at the sub-county level, which they refer to as depot centres and at the village level - producer organisations. He was leading Dr Kibirige Ssebunya, the state minister for agriculture, on a field tour in Mityana recently.
Samuel Zizinga, a 68-year-old farmer, said the farmers had stopped growing coffee because it takes a long time to yield. When the wilt disease hit the coffee sector, a majority of farmers switched to vanilla, moringa and Aloe Vera.
He also blamed the Government, saying it did very little when, six years ago, almost all the farmers in Mityana saw their plantations perish.
He, however, said they were happy about the alliance. "We now cultivate knowing that our products will have a ready market and fetch good prices," Zizinga said.
Ssebunya advised farmers to uproot all the old trees from their fields and burn them. "The coffee wilt disease spread fast in Mityana because farmers just picked planting materials without the consent of the agricultural officers in their areas."
Ssebunya said through coffee cultivation, the farmers would be able to educate their children. The farmers asked for support to the programme that seems to be winding up its activities.
"Our organisation deals in the growing and marketing of Kiboko coffee for the selected members. We have so far sold coffee for two seasons. In the first season we sold 12.5 tonnes and in the second season we sold 37 tonnes. We want this trend to continue and this will be possible when the programme is extended," said Monica Nakalema.