Steve Aronson flew from Costa Rica to Rwanda on January 27 with a goal: to advise Rwandan stakeholders on how to leverage the country’s tourism industry for increased coffee exports. After leading a Rwandan delegation to Costa Rica in April 2018, the USAID Hub managed and sponsored Mr. Aronson’s trip so that he could see Rwanda’s coffee production firsthand and provide guidance on how agri-tourism can boost production and export revenues.
Steve Aronson is an expert on integrating coffee and tourism. He founded Café Britt, a coffee and chocolate manufacturer and retailer in Costa Rica, which now operates over 130 retail outlets in 11 countries. His company was the first in Costa Rica to launch a coffee tour that included a theatrical play and dance about the cultural impact of coffee on Costa Rica. It also employed professional baristas and maximized the selling of its products on site. These activities blended tourism and coffee for maximum economic gain.
Between January 27 and February 1, Mr. Aronson traveled around Rwanda to share insights from his business. He met with the top leadership of the National Agriculture Board (NAEB), tourism marketing officials from the Rwanda Development Board and officials from USAID/Rwanda. He also visited coffee plantations, mills and roasting plants, such as Huye Mountain Coffee, COPAKAMA, Rwanda Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative and Sustainable Harvest’s initiative to support women in coffee.
After engaging with stakeholders, Mr. Aronson advised them on how to double Rwanda’s coffee volume and export value. "From the reality on the ground, it is clear that more cooperatives can adopt with ease required practices and access organic certification. This is one of the initiatives that can help to boost revenues from exports as organic coffee sells at premium," he explained. Overall, his suggestions focused on practices to increase yield per hectare, to institute the best industrial roasting and milling practices and to target marketing and distribution. He agreed to provide more technical support to NAEB to roll out some of the interventions.
"Thank you, Steve, for the visit and your guidance. We look forward to more strategic initiatives together. We thank the Trade Hub for the great collaboration with NAEB which paved way to the visit of Steve Aronson to Rwanda," said Amb. George Kayonga, CEO, National Agriculture Export Development Board.