Improving Rwanda’s Competitive Advantage in the Tea and Coffee Sectors

Rwanda has favourable conditions and infrastructure for growing high-quality Arabica coffee and premium teas. Coffee and tea are important to the economy, contributing 9% to Rwanda’s export earnings and supporting over 375,000 farmers plus their families and seasonal labourers.  

Rwanda’s National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) and industry actors are working to raise the quality and yields of both crops by expanding growing areas and improving agricultural practices and access to inputs. But this growth is hindered by international competition and the negative effects of climate change, which reduce profitability.  

For the government, overcoming these issues is an important opportunity to promote sustainable agricultural production while supporting livelihoods. 

NAEB invited our advisory services team to examine how its coffee and tea products can be more competitive in the international market. Our work focused on how the country might increase export volumes, improve its business competitiveness, and stand out in the market while enhancing the sustainability and climate resilience of production practices.  

Our report to NAEB suggested that distinguishing Rwandan tea and coffee as high quality and leading on sustainability performance and climate resilience can achieve this goal. The study identified four pillars of this suggested approach: 

  • Using a strategy of differentiation to ultimately achieve greater competitive advantage  
  • Improving business communication and relationship capacities; advancing value-chain integration and visibility  
  • Developing a branding and communication strategy centred on product differentiation and positive sustainability performance in coffee and tea plantations
  • Market development and promotion targeting premiums and sustainable markets. 

Best practices for growing tea and coffee sustainably

Millions of people across the planet earn livelihoods from the tea and coffee industries, but many face a myriad of sustainability challenges.

As part of our advisory services work, we looked at how countries are finding ways to address these challenges. By identifying successes in major tea- and coffee-producing regions, we can help other developing country policy-makers seeking to tackle similar challenges.

Read about our findings for the tea and coffee industry.