TaCRI dissemination uplifts coffee cultivation nationwide

14Mar 2022
The Guardian
TaCRI dissemination uplifts coffee cultivation nationwide

REPORTS that the government has instructed the Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TaCRI) to disseminate research findings to  farmers countrywide to stimulate modern farming for sustainable coffee development may not sound as big news. That is definitely what the institution is supposed to do,-

-along with its sister research body, the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), but as a matter of fact this appeal has more than meets the eye. TaCRI managing director Ressy Mashulano emphasized on the point at an annual general meeting (AGM) of its staff members at midweek. The tone was a bit urgent.

It is well known, as the director underlined, that there is no need of conducting research if findings will be left in office shelves without reaching the targeted population, there are improved circumstances for research findings to be in greater demand in the market. At the time that agro-sector research was starting decades earlier, the number of farmers who would be adapting their farming techniques from one year to another, to take account of changing cost (inputs) or market (pricing) structures was minimal. That is no longer the case as thousands of agro-entrepreneurs join farming each year, and seek out best techniques.

What the director says about coffee research is likely to be applicable for a range of other crops, where there is competition on farm expansion if it is this or that crop, inputs to be used land their prices, which crops need more inputs and which need less, etc. The marketing environment is equally dynamic, as in a number of instances what is needed is a good and quality crop, but in some other areas consumers need organic produce without pesticides. Farm entrepreneurs need to know what prices either crop will fetch and in which market, to as to evaluate the technique cost and the marketing opportunity to select a crop.

In that case problems will not cease for TaCRI researchers and management all of a sudden, to know how far their research results can be delivered to farmers and how much of that technical improvement in seeds or other inputs they need compared to the year before. At the same time, it isn’t TaCRI researchers and management per se who deliver those results to farmers but a different set of entrepreneurs, namely seed marketers and input shops around the country. They face a different set of challenges compared to what the researchers are being told to do; it is unclear what TaCRI staff can do for market demand uplift.

One can say that the TaCRI consultative meeting did its work, and it is up to district agro-sector authorities to make sure that they have outreach facilities for elevated farming in their areas. Many things are involved including land access arrangements, compensation where relevant, etc. Local farming is usually less innovative but it can be brought on board, especially with timely delivery of inputs and some outreach activity. Finally what matters is what the farmer seeks on products, his/her own product strategy.

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