The World Bank has noted that export growth and competitiveness are key to Rwanda’s ability to raise Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) levels and foster economic growth. To achieve this, the East African country is looking to one of its top five merchandise export, tea.
Owing to Rwandan tea’s competitiveness on international markets, the country’s National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB) has projected tea export revenues to increase to $92 million this year from $88 million last year.
According to NAEB Tea Divison Manager, Issa Nkurunziza, “Rwanda’s tea stands out from its competitors due to its uniqueness in taste and appearance. This year, we are targeting $92 million from Rwandan tea exports.”
Seventy percent of Rwandans engage in agriculture and with the introduction of tea in 1952, it became one of the country’s cash crops. Currently, tea is grown on 26,897 by 42,840 farmers across 12 districts.
Over the years, tea production in Rwanda has increased significantly from 14,500 tonnes in 2000 to 25,128 tons in 2017. Between July 2016 and June 2017, Rwanda recorded a 15 percent increase in profit worth $74.5 million after exporting 27,824 metric tonnes of tea to 48 countries in Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe.
Rwanda produces one of the best quality teas in the world. Approximately 97.3 percent is exported in raw form. 60 percent of the country’s tea is sold in auctions, 37.3 percent is sold directly and 2.7 percent are sold locally.
While the country looks to get increased revenue from its tea exports, it finds it difficult convincing its citizens to drink tea. Nkurunziza noted that tea consumption in Rwanda is fairly low, with local consumption yet to reach the estimated 3 percent of total production.