Minister encourages coffee growers to embrace modern farming practice

29Nov 2018
The Guardian
Minister encourages coffee growers to embrace modern farming practice

DEPUTY Minister for Agriculture, Innocent Bashungwa has encouraged coffee growers to embrace modern farming practices that involve the use of high-yielding seed varieties, which are free from diseases and withstand climate change impacts.

Coffee growers.

The minister said the move would increase production of the once leading foreign currency earner for Tanzania, which currently accounts for about five per cent of total exports by value, generating 100million U.S. dollars annually.

Tanzania is the fourth coffee-producing country in Africa after Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire and Uganda — with an annual crop ranging from 46,000 tonnes to 60,000 tonnes.

“We’re now encouraging coffee growers to plant improved seedlings, which are more productive and provide quality coffee beans. This alone can make them get better price in the global markets,” he said.

He also directed all coffee research to timely release their research findings to farmers across the east African nation.

 “This can also transform farmers’ livelihoods and the nation at large,” Bashungwa said when speaking with coffee researchers at the Kilimanjaro-based Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TACRI).

The official said that some farmers have started embracing new farming techniques and the results are encouraging.

“That’s why we’re encouraging more farmers to venture into the new farming skills so that as a country we move forward,” he said.

 “There is no need to have researches, if their findings don’t reach farmers at the grass root level,” the deputy minister said, lauding TACRI for the outstanding performance in coffee research for the development of the cash crops.

“But, my appeal to you (TaCRI) is to make sure that your findings including new agriculture technologies are transformed to our farmers countrywide for the sustainable high coffee production,” he insisted.

He also directed TaCRI management to collaborate with the Tanzania Coffee Board (TCB), Department of Crops Development under his ministry, Cooperative unions countrywide to transform their new coffee production technologies to the farmers for sustainable development of coffee production countrywide.

“There is no need for you (TaCRI) to combine yourself with other research bodies institutions that are dealing with other crop research, instead, you should continue with your coffee research activities as you are doing very laudable work for the sustainable coffee production development countrywide,” Bashungwa explained.

According to the minister who visited demonstration plot of developing 23 improved coffee varieties, Soil and Plant Analysis Laboratory, National Coffee Nursery at the TaCRI’s headquarters in Lyamungo,

For his part, the Executive Director of TaCRI, Dr Deusdedit Kilambo explained that, his institution is in the Research trial of its new ‘drought tolerant’ variety of coffee which is expected to be on use by 2020, a move that aims at improving coffee production in the country.

Dr Kilambo further revealed that coffee production in the season of the year 2017/18 will drop from 50,000 to 43,000 tonnes due to among many other factors including drought.

“In our ongoing research trials now, we have 9-new varieties of improved coffee varieties of drought tolerant variety of coffee in Rombo (Kilimanjaro), Tarime (Mara), Buhigwa (Kigoma), and Mbozi (Mbeya), and we expect to have new improved drought tolerant coffee variety by 2020 to increase coffee production even in drought areas in the country, thus increasing the production of quality coffee that is highly needed in the global market,” Dr Kilambo explained.

He added that, apart from that, TaCRI has produced 23 improved coffee varieties (Arabica and Robusta) which are resistant to the major coffee diseases such as Coffee Berry Diseases (CBD) and Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR) which attacks Arabica coffee and Coffee Wilt Disease which attacks Robusta.

 “Coffee diseases such as the Coffee Berry Diseases (CBD) and Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR) which attacks Arabica coffee and Coffee Wilt Disease which attacks Robusta affects coffee production by 60 per cent to 100 per cent of the total coffee produced annually,” the TaCRI Chief boss explained.

Dr Kilambo further added that, the improved coffee variety has high quality yield, appealing the coffee growers to use the new variety by replacing them with the old traditional coffee trees for the high quality production of coffee that is suitable in the global market.

Programme manager with the TaCRI, Dr Jeremiah Magesa explained that, they are working hard with the coffee producers by making sure that they are using new technologies of producing high quality coffee that are suitable in the global market.

“TaCRI has been providing modern skills of producing high quality coffee to the coffee producers by proving them with the skills and modern improved coffee siblings for the high quality of coffee production suitable in the global market,” he explained.

The board chairperson of the TaCRI, Aloyce Mdalavuma who is one of the small coffee producers in Mbeya told the minister that they are facing many challenges in coffee production, but the main one is the lack of agriculture inputs; commending the role played by his institution in coffee research that resulted into new improved diseases tolerant varieties of coffee seedlings.

“Coffee production costs was very high in the past due to high use of agriculture inputs, but now the production has low costs by using new improved coffee varieties under TaCRI,” he explained.