(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
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
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.