Coffee stakeholders in Tanzania have resolved to revamp their production and processing by increasing size of fields and quality of product for the once lucrative foreign exchange-earning crop.
In a meeting designed specifically to plan the way forward for the cash crop, the stakeholders, including all councils in districts that grows coffee pointed out detailed managerial, technical and financial strategies meant to revive the sub-sector, taking action swiftly.The move is to keep pace with the government strategy to turn Tanzania into an industrial country,
On its part, Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Society (KNCU) – the oldest coop in Africa vowed to put its weight behind to promote cultivation of quality coffee with high productivity in order to increase the quantity of coffee.
KNCU Commercial Manager, Mr Godfrey Massawe told the convention that KNCU would oversee bidders’ contracts for coffee plantations operations, collect coffee from members and growers and ensure it catches good price in the market. It will also give professional technical advice on how to run business, entrepreneurship and keeping financial statements.
The manager said KNCU distributes approximately 20,000 coffee seedlings annually to farmers, that one seedling costs between 1,200/- and 1,500/- but it charges farmers a mere 500/- for each seedling.
They are produced at Mbosho, Hai District; Gararagua, Siha District and KDC in Moshi. Mr Massawe said as of now KNCU cultivates coffee at a plantation that measures 70 hectares at Gararagua, Siha District; 62 hectares at Molomo, 120 hectares situated in Lerongo and 20 hectares at Lyamungo in Hai District. Moshi District Executive Director (DED), Mr Fulgence Mponji said the council has engaged in revamping coffee by supporting farmers in getting rid of old and unproductive coffee trees and planting new ones, as well as directing 20 percent of duties collected from coffee to procurement of new seedlings and other needs for farmers.
Other strategies are to organize study tours for farmers to areas that have revived the crop and establish and renovate coffee central Pulpier Units so as to get quality coffee. So far, said the DED, Moshi District Council has revived 2,762 hectares of land out of the available 18,779 hectares targeted for coffee production and has refurbished 38 irrigation canals while it sends more extension officers to support farmers.
Hai District Agricultural Officer, Mr David Lekei said his district has engaged in revival and expansion of coffee plantations, especially on the highlands. It has since, with support of Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TaCRI) and Tanzania Coffee Board (TCB) supported individuals to initiate nurseries for coffee seedlings production. As for Rombo District, Mr Richard Mfugale who is the DED, said efforts are underway to ensure coffee is grown in areas appropriate for it.
He said a total of 28,870 farmers have been trained on best practices for coffee and have prepared fields for growing the crop. Mr Mfugale said its experts advised growers to do away with old and unproductive coffee trees and plant new ones, use of farmyard manure during planting, pesticides sprinkling, rain water harvesting and reserving it. The council has procured 20 Central Pulpier Units (CPU). Rombo has 35,000 coffee growers who use 15,837 hectares, but is due to extend the fields.
Ms Hellen Semadio is Same District Agricultural Officer who says the council has established 14 blocks for production of coffee seedlings. She said that next season the district hope to extend coffee cultivation beyond the current 1,650 hectares, as fields used to grow khat (mirungi) are being cleared to pave way for coffee plants.
Ms Semadio said the officers are getting refresher courses so as to be better in mastering the work. She noted that application of bylaws will be effected to deal with growers who contravene coffee production principles.