Institute developing drought-resistant coffee variety

25Feb 2018
James Lanka
Guardian On Sunday
Institute developing drought-resistant coffee variety

THE Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TaCRI) is researching a drought-tolerant coffee variety that is expected to be distributed to farmers by 2020.

The move aims at improving coffee production in the country.

TaCRI’s Chief Executive Director Dr. Deusdedit Kilambo says there has been a decrease of coffee production resulting from unreliable rainfall, thus embarking on the new variety to increase production.

He says for example that in 2017/18 it was expected that production will drop to between 50,000 and 43,000 tonnes due to many factors including drought.

According to Acting Director General of the Tanzania Coffee Board (TCB) Primus Kimaryo,  9 new improved drought-tolerant coffee varieties were on trial in Rombo (Kilimanjaro), Tarime (Mara), Buhigwe (Kigoma) and Mbozi (Mbeya) districts.

He says it was expected that the new improved varieties will be out for use by 2020 to increase coffee production even in drought areas, thus increasing coffee production.

He said various researches being conducted by TaCRI had managed to produce 23 improved coffee varieties of both Arabica and Robusta which were resistant to major coffee diseases such as Coffee Berry Disease (CBD) and Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR).

According to the TaCRI chief executive, such diseases affect up to 60 per cent of the total coffee produced annually.

“Improved coffee variety has a high quality yield. I appeal to coffee growers to use the new varieties,” he said.

He said the high quality production of coffee was suitable for the global market demand.

According to TaCRI, Programme Manager Jeremiah Magesa, his organisation was working with coffee producers by making sure that they used new technologies of producing high quality coffee suitable for the global market.

A coffee producer in the region, Gabriel Olomi, who also manages G-32 Group, told Deputy Minister for Agriculture Dr. Mary Mwanjelwa during her recent visit to the region, that farmers were faced with lack of agriculture inputs.

Olomi,  who has been in the sector since 1983, said while other cereal producers were given input subsidies, coffee producers were denied the chance.

He called for the need to ensure there was a coffee auction under the TCB to reduce smuggling of coffee as the move would also control the quality of coffee being exported.

He also took issue with contract farming between some coffee buyers and companies as a main challenge, saying buying their produce while still in the farm cheated them of their income.

Recently, the deputy minister for agriculture directed TCB to ensure there was more efforts in the promotion of coffee production and marketing within and outside the country to increase its sustainability in the global market.

Established in 2001, TaCRI is currently working with over 400 farmer groups in conducting training to growers in six sub-stations in Lyamungu, Hai district in Kilimanjaro region, Arusha, Manyara, Tanga and Morogoro regions and many other areas.