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Weather stops Tanzania coffee growers to meet production target | Coastweek

Coffee plantation on Gibb's farm, in Karatu, Arusha, Tanzania. Coffee is one of Tanzania’s major export crops; on average the country produces around 50,000 metric tons each year of which approximately 70 per cent is Arabica and 30 percent Robusta. Sales generate over 100 million U.S. dollars per year, according to data from Tanzania’s Coffee Board.  WIKIPEDIA PHOTO

Weather stops coffee growers to meet Tanzania production target

ARUSHA, Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Songoro Tozo is one of the coffee growers in southwestern Tanzania’s district of Mbozi who are currently overwhelmed with a number of challenges which have made them unable to reach production target for the last 15 years.

In the hilly and sloppy area of Mbozi, farmers have been failing to raise production from 250 grams of coffee beans per plant to 1,000 grams, the target set by the Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TaCRI).

A 52-year-old farmer, Tozo said erratic and often adverse changes to weather patterns make coffee growing in the area more a lottery than an art.

"I have been in this venture for more than three decades, and in those good days, we had enough rains, but now rains start late, delaying crop planting and resulting in late coffee flowering and berry ripening," said Tozo, of Nambizo village.

"That means delays for farmers in earning income from their coffee," he said, adding that in some years it rains within a shorter period, a situation that affects the growth of the crop.

A father of four, Tozo cites lack of extension officers and the high cost of farm inputs as the "deadly" challenges facing coffee cultivators in the area and perhaps across Tanzania.

"As farmers, we’re left growing coffee on our own as there are no extension officers," said Jonas Silungwe, a coffee grower in the area, who owns five acres of farm land.

Silungwe said farmers were expecting that the government would come up with dams that would help farmers to venture into irrigation as mitigation measures to climate change.

"In the past, we had strong cooperative societies, which used to pay farmers at the right time and empower us with new farming skills as well as ensuring that farm inputs are available, but now it’s not the case," Silungwe lamented.

According to Silungwe some farmers uprooted the crop and planted other crops, as they could not maintain them.

Sikujuwa Msukwa of Nkanga village said "coffee farming is under a new threat, as of now the market is flooded with fake pesticides and insecticides.

This makes our sweat disappear in a thin air as we’re spending a lot of money in production with a very minimal return."

Isack Mushi, manager of Mbimba center of TaCRI said that the institute has reached 15 years and it has been facing a number of challenges including failing to help farmers raise coffee bean output to 1,000 grams per plant.

"We’ve also failed to improve grading of coffee beans from between 13 and 9 to between 9 and 5," he said, citing limited investment in the crop by local authorities through supporting farmers with extension officers as well as making farmers get farm inputs like fertilizers at low price.

Edna Mwaigomole, Mbozi District Council executive director is aware of the challenge facing the coffee farming in the district.

"In this financial year, we’re going to employ 47 extension officers as part of our efforts to revamp the cash crop," she said.

However, Deusdedit Kibasa, senior researcher from Ardhi University suggested the need for coffee growers to start venturing into organic farming.

Kibasa said many farmers have been using unfriendly farming methods including the use of toxic chemicals, which reduces the quality of coffee beans, making it unable to compete in the international markets.

Apart from destroying the quality of coffee beans, the expert said it also destroys the soil which reduced its fertility making farmers get less and less production on a yearly basis.

Coffee is one of Tanzania’s major export crops; on average the country produces around 50,000 metric tons each year of which approximately 70 per cent is Arabica and 30 percent Robusta. Sales generate over 100 million U.S. dollars per year, according to data from Tanzania’s Coffee Board.

The three main Arabica growing regions are in the North/Kilimanjaro, Mbeya and the Matengo Highlands (Mbinga).

Tanzania ranks the 19th largest producer of coffee in the world.

 

             

 

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