Regions working to revive coffee sector

19Mar 2019
The Guardian
Regions working to revive coffee sector

COFFEE stakeholders from Mbeya, Songwe, Rukwa and Katavi regions met over the weekend to discuss challenges facing the once-prosperous cash crop and come up with remarkable measures to revive cultivation of the beans.

Among the challenges include climate change, lack of reliable market and fake farm inputs.

Songwe Regional Commissioner Nickodemas Mwangela described coffee as one of the key cash crops which brings in good amounts in foreign exchange but its production has dropped.

“This is a challenge that needs to be worked on, as of now on average one tree produces 0.25kg, while for our colleagues in Kenya one tree yields 6kgs of coffee beans. Here there is a problem that we need to act as government and key players in the sector,” he said.

Mwangela said the land southern highland regions is fertile and experts are there to empower farmers with better agronomic practices that would scale up production.

“What I am wondering is why production is still low. Something needs to be done,” he stressed.

He encouraged local government authorities in the four regions to initiate a campaign to ensure that farmers plant improved coffee seedlings with high yields.

In the coffee growing districts, more than 200,000 seedlings need to be   planted to develop the coffee sector, which of recent is going downhill, he said.

The RC directed district commissioners and directors in Songwe to ensure that the region is free from fake farm inputs, while asking extension officers to move their offices to the fields to support farmers with technical-know-how.

Joseph Mkude, Ileje District Commissioner, said that more than 400,000 households in southern highland regions are benefiting from the cash crop.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) once urged coffee farmers to take the issue of the environment seriously for the sustainability of the sector and health benefits of consumers.

Farmers must also invest heavily in organic farming which in most cases is friendly to the environment and the people’s well-being.

Coffee is Tanzania’s largest export crop as on average the country produces around 50,000 metric tons each year, approximately 70 percent Arabica and 30 percent Robusta. Sales generate over $100 million per year, according to data from the Tanzania Coffee Board.

Arabica is grown mainly in Kilimanjaro, Mbeya and the Matengo Highlands (Mbinga). Other Arabica areas include the Usambara Mountains, Iringa, Morogoro, Kigoma, and Ngara.

Tanzania is the 19th largest producer of coffee in the world, it was also indicated.